Remember the song, “I have the joy, joy, joy, Down in my heart” when you were little? I remember singing, “Down in my heart to stay.” As an adult, I wonder, where does my joy go? Fighting the overwhem of health concerns and depression or even the gloom of a rainy day, I can find myself on the wrong side of joy.
In our last post we looked for ways outside ourselves to find joy I have been thinking about how do I choose my joy with intentional effort ? I believe I have come up with four ways to practice that “joy down in my heart.”
Realize joy is a choice
When I get up in the morning, I can choose what I will put into my mind. Will it be joy thoughts of God, prayer and meditation or worry thoughts about the day and things I don’t have control over? Will it be anxious thoughts about the news or uplifting music? Will it be a word of God to think about for the day or newspaper headlines that make me anxious? I am not saying to not keep up with the world, but how to start your day can make a difference in how you filter the rest of your day. How can your thoughts of joy raise you above the fray that you don’t have control over? Joy is about focused thinking.
Exercise your way to joy
I know that exercise is that bad word for many of us. I am not a fan of it myself but the deep breathing, stretching, moving your body – all those things will bring life to your brain, your body and your soul. I find it amazing each time I exercise how good I feel afterwards. Research shows it helps alleviate depression, helps you focus, alleviates stress and helps your memory. For me, even developing a short routine will bring clear my thinking and wake up my body. What exercise can you find that brings you joy- holy yoga, walking with a friend, stretching, biking, deep breathing exercises?
Stop and look around you
On my way to a meeting last evening, I stopped at a nearby nature preserve for only 10 minutes. I watched monarch butterflies flitter from purple clover flower to flower. I looked over the grassy tall meadow and heard the red-winged blackbird singing. The cottonwood leaves rustling. The gentle evening breeze came in through my car windows. In those 10 minutes, I breathed deeply the sweet smell, sights and sounds of the meadow. I rejoiced in the beauty of the simpleness of nature and noticed how my body relaxed so quickly As I drove away, I was amazed at what those 10 minutes did for my body, my mind and my soul. I was grateful for such a marvelous gift of creation.
Choose joy for yourself by being gentle
Finally, I realized on my hardest days, I need to give myself permission to choose the joy of loving myself. I sat on the back porch this week and just sat. I didn’t do anything else and told myself that was just fine.
What about you? I would love to hear from you. What self-care strategies will you use to choose joy this week? Be sure to comment below or post on Live Fully Life Coaching facebook. Next week we’ll talk about Avoiding the Joy Killers.