This afternoon I interviewed an ADHD coach for a piece on Psych Central about chronic lateness. At the end of our conversation, she mentioned that today is the International Day of Happiness.
I had no idea. So in the spirit of today’s significance, here’s a list of 10 ways we can cultivate joy today and every day.
- Take a moment to consider the many things your body does for you on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute and even second-to-second basis. In fact, write one thing right now. (If you can’t think of anything, how about giving you the miracle of life?)
- Connect with your loved ones — even acquaintances — in a meaningful way. Forget “fat talk,” and embrace real, interesting conversations. Go beyond talk of diets, forbidden foods and calorie counts. Ask how someone is doing, listen to their words — really listen — and go from there.
- Create a list of your simple pleasures and make time for them. It could be small — even tiny — acts, activities, things that bring a smile to your face.
- Get curious. There are myriad fascinating things about our world, and even our backyards, that we’ve yet to discover or truly understand. As I’m writing my book (on rediscovering creativity and leading a more playful life), I’m reminded more and more about the importance and really the joy of getting curious about our surroundings, of returning to our younger years when everything seemed utterly magical. Plus, as one psychologist told me, “Curiosity heightens your senses. And when your senses are amplified, you can experience positive emotions more intensely.”
- Don’t think of your body as a burden. I know this is incredibly hard sometimes, especially if you’re dealing with certain physical challenges. But maybe this can serve as a small reminder. Maybe you can feel the frustration and anger, and then practice gratitude for your body as a whole.
- Focus on self-care. Take the time to better understand what self-care means to you and how it can translate into your everyday. This can include everything from getting enough sleep to saying no to commitments that don’t feel good to journaling your heart out. Self-care isn’t selfish or a luxury. It’s very hard to take care of others when we are depleted and at our wit’s end.
- Focus on self-compassion. Our brains naturally tend toward negative thinking, so whenever we don’t look the way we want, whenever we make a mistake, whenever we’re less than perfect, our inner critic latches onto that error or imperfection, and like a tic or parasite, starts feasting. It starts magnifying. Suddenly that small mistake or concern becomes a catastrophe. Practice breaking the cycle — and habit, really — by practicing self-compassion instead. Think of your best friend, and how you’d treat him or her. Think of yourself as both the child and nurturing parent trying to soothe that child. These self-compassion meditations can help.
- Create daily rituals that focus on feeling pleasure in your own skin. This could be anything from stretching in the mornings to taking a bath in the evening.
- Be fully present. It doesn’t have to be all the time. But try to be fully present when you’re eating dinner by yourself or with your family. Try to be fully present when you’re taking a walk. Breathe in the breeze against your skin. Try to be fully present when you kiss your spouse or hug your kids.
- Add humor to your life. I think joy and humor are intertwined. As one expert told me, humor doesn’t happen by chance; it’s a matter of choice. Seek humor out by watching funny movies, reading funny books and listening to your favorite comedians.
I think the key in cultivating joy, at least for me, is to make time for doing what you love and being with who you love.
What makes you happy? What brings you joy?