Joy and Happiness
Joy and Happiness are terms thrown around more and more in our current society. There are new books released on empowerment and happiness most every day. Many of these books are all about what it means to be joyful with the power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness. There are even books on being a Happy Leader, such as the one just released from a colleague of mine, Tia Graham.
The actual definitions of both joy and happiness are often intertwined. Joy brings a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Both joy and happiness are directly linked to our emotions and life satisfaction. In this article, I will go a bit deeper than defining just the surface happiness. True joy comes from within us and I think of it as a hot spring that bubbles up, just like a geyser from beneath the surface of the earth. In this way, I feel joy is linked to your very soul.
As we all age, subjective well-being causally affects our health and longevity.* Subjective well-being refers to how you evaluate your own life, such as life satisfaction, feelings, moods and emotions. It can also include the emotions the optimism, anger and work satisfaction. In the five year study by Lawrence et al. (2015), older people who said they felt pleased, thrilled and content on a typical day had a thirty-five to twenty percent lower death rate. This research is quite encouraging in many ways but as most know, there are no guarantees on extending anyone’s lifespan. But it does encourage us to pay attention to our mindset and emotional well-being. We cover five ways to help you develop more joy and happiness. They include journaling, significant relationships, eating and exercise, your spiritual life and getting outdoors.
One: Develop a Consistent Practice of Journaling
Thankfulness and a grateful heart are an integral part of a healthy mindset as it takes the focus off your own inner problems and creates an outward focus. If you start each day focusing on just one small thing you are thankful for, just this habit alone has the power to foster more joy and happiness in your life. I started a 90-day journaling challenge a number of years ago, writing just a couple sentences a day. This practice has become an ingrained habit that has fostered increased feelings of thankfulness and gratefulness in my life. I encourage you to take up the challenge as well!
Two: Develop Significant Relationships
People, the 1964 song by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill was made famous by Barbra Streisand in the Broadway musical Funny Girl. It had the memorable phrase, People, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world. The song became Streisand’s first Top 40 hit and it soon became a recording favorite of other artists as well. More than just a song in a musical, the lyrics carry a message to emphasize the importance of connection with each other. It is a known fact that significant relationships and friendships are very beneficial as social interaction with encouragement helps keep the mind sharp and even extends lifespans.
There’s a growing amount of research showing a higher risk of illness and death in people with low quantity and quality of social relationships. Dr. Kilical, MD says, Social isolation is a major risk factor for death from a variety of causes in both genders. In fact during COVID with all the isolation, the impact of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders, were directly associated with mental health challenges and even increased suicide rates. People need each other.
Three: Develop Healthy Eating & Exercise Habits
As the body goes, so the mind goes. This is my opinion, but it is backed up by many health professionals. Regular exercise prevents or delays illness, increases your energy levels and also can minimize chronic conditions. An exercise-induced mood boost can be obtained by running, but also most any other sustained physical activity with walking, riding bikes, etc.
There is a brain chemical called endocannabinoids, which is the same chemical mimicked by cannabis. This is the happy chemical. Stress areas of the brain are the amygdala and prefrontal cortex and both are receptors for endocannabinoids, which in turn reduces stress and brings a state of contentment and optimism. Healthy nutritional habits work hand in hand with exercise. Growing up, I had a friend’s mom who consistently read a book called Sugar is Poison and made sure we knew that fact. I’m sure the original book is no longer in print, but there have been many written since then. A feeling of optimism is nurtured with good eating habits where you maintain a metabolism that is consistent and steady. What sugar does of course, is throw this off, more for some than others. For anyone who has experienced dips of mood and emotion, this knowledge of what good nutrition can do should bring a feeling of joy and happiness! To help you, make sure you download the free Nutritional Timing sheet here: Free Goal Setting Worksheets.
Four: Enrich Your Spiritual Life
Many put their spiritual life on hold until a point of time when it becomes necessary to answer the question, What’s next? This can come mid-career, halftime of life or even toward the end of life. I encourage you to think of this now and not put it off. All you need to do is look around you to notice that there is a power bigger than yourself and that is empowering in many ways. FREE Christmas Devotional
The human hand has twenty-seven bones. If just one of those bones are damaged, it brings pain and suffering. The foot has twenty-six bones. I wonder if my husband has an extra bone in his big toes because they are so long! But the point is, these bones, totaling fifty-three, are just for the hand and feet. For fun, study the gut and explore how all parts of your digestive system need to work together. It’s truly miraculous. Then spend some time reflecting on how all parts of the body are put together and I hope you realize there has to be a designer. Just as the pieces of a wrist-watch or a computer don’t magically just assemble themselves, your bones, veins and body parts need a designer and don’t just assemble randomly. You should definitely find joy and happiness in the way you were put together. And if not, spend some time journaling about this!
Five: Get Outdoors
One of my favorite ways to reflect and take a break is to get outdoors. This can take place on the back of our property where I water or trim fruit trees or when I’m walking our little dog, Amelia. It’s hard not to marvel at the majesty of a redwood tree or shadows falling on the crevices of a mountain. Being outdoors gets us away from our computers and if we choose, even our phones.
Most areas have local parks so even if you have no trees to water or branches to trim, you can find a place to walk. One of our family members recently came back from a trip to Africa where he experienced visiting a small village. The homes were but huts, eight by ten feet, with mattress springs made of elephant dung and coverings of a thin mattress for sleeping. Even their goats slept indoors, away from the night predators. But the one thing that stood out? The people were extremely happy and content. Their lives were simple, hauling their water out of a well in buckets and spending most of their time on the simple basics of life. They lived off the land and realized how abundant it was for their basic needs.
We Live with Abundance
Most who live in the United States have so much, much more than is really needed. I include myself in this category. We discover how true this is toward the last segment of our lives as we work hard to purge some of the belongings that will be mostly given or thrown away after we graduate to our next destination.
You can create more joy and happiness in your life as you take the time to nurture it with simplicity and a few lifestyle steps that will empower and enrich your days, which may even lengthen them! Whether you pick up journaling, a more regular exercise habit or meditation and reflection outdoors, there is a good chance that by doing so you will foster a longer and happier life. That is my wish for you!
Both joy and happiness are directly linked to our emotions and life satisfaction.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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