Do you have joy in your life? I’m talking about true pleasure and contentment from normal everyday life. As busy moms, it can be difficult to find your joy when so much needs to be done. We are often pulled in so many directions and forget that life is meant to be enjoyed.
How many of you are so much on autopilot that you would completely miss joy if it whacked you upside the head? I don’t want to see that happen anymore. My goal is to help you to find your joy every day. Sound impossible?
I want to let you in on the secret. Each day can bring us something to appreciate. Sometimes you really have to be aware and look for it. And yes, I know some days just belong in the crappper. The days when you wake up late for work and your children can’t find their homework and you forget to prepare for that important meeting and you get splashed with muddy rainwater on the way inside. I have those days too.
Sometimes, it takes practice to find your joy in the daily grind. Positive thinking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. You might have to train your brain to see the positive side of a situation. This article can help you do that.
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Ways to find your joy
In the morning:
- Appreciate that you are alive and able to get out of bed.
- Appreciate that your children are alive and able to get out of bed. (My deepest condolences if you have lost a child.)
- Give thanks for the food that you have to eat. It doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal. Just food on your plate that can nourish your body. Not everyone has that.
- Watch the sunrise.
- Do a basic sun salutation (it’s only five minutes!).
- Put a bird feeder outside of your window and watch the birds fly around (my cats also enjoy this activity). You might be surprised at how entertaining birds can be.
- Listen to the birds sing.
- Step outside and just feel the wind in your face for a couple of minutes (or longer). Yes, even if it’s winter (that’s why they make hats, gloves and constricting snowsuits!).
- Make fun pancakes for breakfast (Hint: they don’t take much more time than the regular circle shape). Plus, you can make the batter the night before.
- Eat some bacon! Ok, this is kind of a joke. The point is to treat yourself on occasion. Give yourself something to look forward to in the morning. For me, bacon is my favorite treat. I love it so much that my husband made me chocolate covered bacon roses for Valentine’s Day once, instead of getting me real roses. I don’t eat it every day, but when I do, I savor every bite.
- Create your own positive statement to say when you awake every morning. The more you say it, the more you will believe it. Not sure how to do this? This article can help.
- When you wake up, think of one thing you are looking forward to for the day. Every day presents us with something to positively anticipate, even if it’s just making it to the end of the day and your warm bed (or wine).
During the day:
- Do a couple of minutes of burst training during breaks.
- Bring a picture of a place that is special to you, aka your happy place, to work and focus on that place for a few minutes when you’re feeling frustrated. Don’t have a happy place? Create one.
- Use music to improve your mood. Spotify allows you to choose different genres of music playlists. Feeling anxious? Try their Calm Down station. Need a pick-me-up? Try Get Happy! They even have stations for creativity, coffee breaks, rainy days and smooth mornings (we all need that). I’m listening to Deep Focus right now as I type. Plus, it’s free!
- Be the sunshine in your office! Lead by example. Positivity can be just as infectious as negativity. So be the person who smiles and greets everyone. Who goes out of their way to help. Who always has a kind word to say. If you don’t feel it, “fake it ’til you make it” really works. Then watch the positive energy spread around you.
- Get a new perspective. If you sit for long periods at work, make sure to get up and walk around every hour or two. You can walk around the office or outside if you’re able to. Just change your view for a few minutes and refresh your brain.
- Try a standing desk. Did you know that sitting for long periods of time is harmful to your health, both physical and mental? You can read up on the health hazards of sitting. So try an adjustable standing desk like this or this. If you absolutely can’t change your desk at work, you could also try a sitting cycle like this that fits under your desk.
- Make a mini photo album with 10 or so of your favorite pictures and keep it at work. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, flip through the album to help lighten your mood. Remembering past happy events will actually bring back those feelings.
- Have lunch with a friend or spouse. Silence your phone, put it away and have a real conversation. I realize it can be hard or even impossible to get away during the work day. But try to make it a priority when you are able to. Our connections with other people are vital to our mental health.
- Seek out the uplifters. Ditch the downers. You know who I mean. The doubters, the gossipmongers, the negative Nellies. People who are naturally negative and pessimistic will bring you down with them. AVOID them like the plague. They clearly need to read this article to help them find their joy.
In the evening:
- Ask your children what their favorite part of the day was and tell them yours.
- During dinner, strengthen the bond with your children. Use this dinner box of questions to discuss various topics and answer questions around the table. Or make up your own questions.
- Read a book with your child.
- Play a game with your child- Life, Uno, Candy Land, Simon Says, etc.
- Have a pillow (or snowball) fight. This will encourage laughter and decrease stress.
- Read a good book in bed. This is so much better for your sleep than watching television or staring at your smart device. Blue light from electronics will interfere with your melatonin production and make it more difficult to sleep. Books never do that.
- Try a new herbal tea before bed. Tea can feel like a treat without any guilt. Make sure it’s naturally caffeine free so that it doesn’t interfere with your sleep. I like Traditional Medicinals Chamomile with lavender or Nighty night. You could also try an assortment like this Tea Forte´ relaxing variety pack (it’s on my wish list).
- Have a dance party with your children. Put on some dance tunes (I personally love 90’s dance music), turn it up and get your groove on! Nobody cares what you look like or is there to judge you. Just get up and move.
- Give thanks for the day. Good or bad, I always say thank you for this day before I go to sleep. Gratitude prevents me from taking my life for granted. Even better if you write it down in a notebook by your bed.
- Watch a funny show. Not an intense, dark show like Hannibal (super creepy). But a funny show. Modern Family and The Goldbergs are laugh out loud shows for me that always help to lighten my mood. Find what makes you laugh out loud and watch it. But only 30-60 minutes. Not a three hour marathon.
- Before bed, write down one thing you want to accomplish for the next day. Then, make sure you finish at least that one thing.
- Play with your dog/cat/other critter for five minutes. Animals live in the moment and are great examples of finding joy.
- Meditate. You only have to do five minutes to feel the benefits, although longer is better if you have the time.
- Hug your spouse/child/friend. Hugging has soooo many benefits. It’s like Prozac without the scary side effects. Hugs are the first thing I do in the morning with my family.
- Take a mom time-out. Read my stress relief post and try one of the techniques listed there.
- Exercise. It’s a known stress reliever and can make you feel revitalized. You don’t have to go to the gym for hours on end. Just do something that makes you feel good. And if Prancercise® is your thing, I won’t judge (seriously, though, that Prancercise woman knows how to be joyful)!
- Take a walk. With your children, pets, partner, friends or just yourself.
- Connect with a friend. Call, text, email, whatever it takes. Just check in to let them know you’re thinking about them.
- Think of a long term goal that you want to complete. Something that might take weeks to months to finish (but not years). Write down the action steps you will need for that goal and then DO them. This goal could be physical (like sticking a handstand), relationship based (like committing to date night once a week), etc. The goal itself is not as important as the dedication and feeling of accomplishment that will come with completing the goal. Once that goal is finished, move to the next one.
- Create family rituals. Rituals help everyone feel a sense of belonging and security. As an example, birthdays are a big deal in my house. I always decorate the hallway outside my daughters’ rooms the night before their birthdays. I also make them whatever cake they want and whatever dinner they choose. My hope is that they will look back and think about how special they felt on their birthdays. You can create your own rituals around anything- a special family song, game night, a secret handshake, a nighttime routine, holidays. Be creative, get your kids involved and have fun!
- Pray. When the world seems dark and scary and without hope, sometimes you need to believe in something bigger than yourself. Whether you believe in God or not, you can still pray, as discussed here. Sometimes prayer has been the only thing to get me through the difficult days.
- Make funny faces in the mirror. It sounds silly and it is. That’s the idea. But I bet you feel better after doing it.
- Plan a special activity with your children. Let them pick something within your budget that is fun for the whole family, such as a trampoline park, children’s museum or ice skating. Then set a date and follow through. Sometimes the anticipation of an activity brings as much joy as the activity itself.
- Write yourself positive messages on post-its and leave them around the house. Seeing affirmations helps to condition your brain to find your joy more easily.
- Perform a random act of kindness for someone. We do this with our youth group from church and it’s always a favorite activity. Help carry someone’s groceries. Pay for the next person in line at the drive-thru. Write a thank-you card to someone at work and hand deliver it to them. Just taking the time to help someone else is guaranteed to help you find your joy.
- Do something out of your comfort zone. You might be thinking that this will increase your stress levels, but hear me out. We all have our normal, safe routine that we follow most days and that’s okay. However, sometimes we need to enter a state of “productive discomfort” as described in this article. This productive discomfort will help prevent boredom and apathy and increase joy in your life. So try a new ethnic restaurant, take a different route to work, talk to a new person, go ziplining, etc.
- Develop a family mission statement. This is a statement that becomes a guiding principle and identity for your family. A mission statement can lead to more joy within your family, since it gives your family purpose and values to live by. Here is an article that helped my family create its own mission statement.
- Write down three things you love about yourself. We often come down on ourselves for not being enough, which makes it impossible to find your joy. Just know that you ARE enough and are worthy of happiness.
- Write down three things you love about your family members. Sometimes in the chaos of day-to-day life, we forget those attributes that make our children or partner so dear to us. If you write it down, you can quickly remind yourself how fortunate you are to have these people in your life. Especially when your children are screaming and fighting each other over a balloon;) (true story).
Now I would love to hear from you! What ways to find your joy resonate with you the most? Do you have any other ideas? Please share in the comments below and share this post with your friends, family or anyone who needs more joy in their life.
Joyful thought for the day, “Balance, peace and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them.” -Thomas Kinkade