How often have you searched for joy in the number on the scale or the size of your jeans? How often have you searched for joy in other external, temporary things?
It’s easy to think that joy resides in a certain weight or body type. After all, we’ve heard and seen these messages for years, which means that after a while, we (mistakenly) assume they’re the true-blue truth.
However, according to bestselling author Shannon Kaiser, joy is “something we allow and invite from within.” It is “our true self.”
There are many barriers that can block us from feeling joy on a daily basis. Kaiser calls these barriers “joy busters” in her latest book Joy Seeker: Let Go of What’s Holding You Back So You Can Live The Life You Were Made For. She noted that they include everything from worrying what others think to worrying about everything to staying busy to having a perfectionistic mindset.
Thankfully, we can overcome these obstacles. Below, Kaiser shared three ways we can cultivate joy every day.
Turn Worry into Wonder
Kaiser noted that this strategy is one of the fastest ways to get out of the frantic pattern of overthinking and worry-filled “what-if” thoughts. The key is to think the opposite of your worry thought. It’s to build a more optimistic and hopeful perspective. It’s to see possibility and promise. Which is very different from putting blinders on or pretending everything is perfect.
Kaiser shared these examples:
Worry: What if I fail?
Wonder: What if things go better than planned, and I am happier than I ever thought I could be?
Worry: What if I am rejected?
Wonder: What if I am accepted? How will my life change for the better?
Worry: I am worried about what others will think. What if it doesn’t work out?
Wonder: I wonder how great it’ll feel to step forward into my dreams. I look forward to living with more joy.
Another way to change your perspective is by thinking about how you’d support a close friend or your child or a younger you. What would you tell them? If you’re still stuck, discuss your worries with a friend who’s regularly optimistic. How do they see your worries? What helps them in cultivating a more hopeful viewpoint?
See Life as an Adventure
According to Kaiser, we also can cultivate joy by seeing life as an unfolding, creative adventure. Which you can do by becoming more present in your life and appreciating the moment. This includes relinquishing your expectations and accepting what is. It includes seeing and embracing the magic in every moment—big or small.
As Kaiser said, “Everything becomes a beautiful adventure; sitting at home playing with loved ones can be just as rewarding as the big peak experiences we chase.”
The key is to use your senses to experience the moment as though you were experiencing it for the very first time. Which is also a powerful way to connect to your loved ones and to connect to yourself. Because when you have this kind of perspective, you don’t take moments for granted.
Instead of being on the periphery or on the sidelines of a moment, you’re inside it. You’re an active participant in your own life, joyfully savoring even the most seemingly mundane moments, realizing just how meaningful they really are.
Be Honest With Yourself
Kaiser stressed the importance of being more honest and real with ourselves (and with others). “Instead of trying to be what you think the world wants you to be, be more of who you truly are.” And you can start small. Start by identifying your needs and wants and actually act on them. Pursue the activities that excite and fascinate you. Engage in what recharges and rejuvenates you. Express a differing opinion with a close friend. Express a different preference (I’d prefer to go to this restaurant versus that one).
Delve deeper to better understand how you’re feeling—and validate those feelings. Journal about them. Welcome them. Don’t judge yourself for being mad when you supposedly shouldn’t be angry.
As Kaiser said, “There is freedom in authentic living; that is the way of the joy seeker.”