Written by: Nev Amp, Practice Consultant, Rural Alive & Well

What do you picture when I say the word joy?

When I Googled images for joy, I was met with random groups of people jumping in unison, arms high in the air, and a perfect sunset in the background.

As a society we’ve been conditioned to believe that joy is some weird blissed-out state, unicorns, rainbows, skipping kids, sunny days etc. So it’s no wonder we are a little lost in this search for joy.

Reality is, joy is one of many emotions that we can experience. Whilst some of the things I mentioned above can evoke feelings of joy, the emotion itself is not all unicorns and rainbows.

Contrary to popular belief, joy can actually feel uncomfortable. Whenever you are focusing on something that gives your life meaning, and ignites a fire in your belly, you are experiencing joy.

When you pursue these things, it’s joy that pushes you to work harder, try harder, be willing to make mistakes and pick yourself up again after a failure.

So what are some ways you can start to cultivate more joy in your life?

  1. Learn to let go – let go of the past, let go of trying to control the present, let go of unrealistic expectations of yourself and/or others, and let go of fears and grudges and disappointments. Allow yourself to appreciate the little moments that make life meaningful.
  1. Take the mask off and be yourself – give yourself permission to embrace all of your weirdness and quirks. Learning to accept yourself, warts and all, and being kinder to yourself when things go wrong, will increase your enjoyment of life, resilience and well-being.
  1. Take action – joy is not going to knock on your door one day (unless you have a friend called Joy). Get out of your head and into the present moment. Suffering exists in the mind. Rather than spending lots of time thinking about all the things that are going wrong, choose to take action towards things that used to bring a smile to your face, try something new, and do those things that make you feel excited and fulfilled.

Life is messy, challenging and painful. That is inevitable.

However, the more focus we give to our negative life situations, the more we will be left feeling exhausted, resentful and fearful. The choice on how to respond to challenges is in your hands.

Ready to take the next step?