Finding Your Joy

5 Steps to a Joy Filled Life

1. Start with a gratitude journal. Write in your journal every day. Choose one to three things that you are grateful for, things that bring you joy. They don’t have to be big things. I had wanted to start a gratitude journal for years. And probably did many times, but I doubt it got farther than that…just having the journal. I thought I needed major things to write down every day and was overwhelmed at the sheer pressure of it all. If today, you are happy for straws because you can drink without messing up your lipstick too badly, then be thankful for that. If you are thankful for cappuccinos this particular day at this particular moment, then be thankful for those. There are so many little things that we take for granted. Joy begins with appreciating the little things, too.

2. Surround yourself with things that bring you joy and peace. I love art. I love photographs. I love warm colors. I love music. I love candles. I love warm lighting. I love books. Surround yourself with things that move you. This is a great habit for two reasons. It feels really good, plus it helps you to know what doesn’t mean so much to you. Find out what is important and simplify your life. It makes decluttering a lot easier.

3.  Have a vision. For the same reason that exercise number two is good, so is this one. It is simply taking #2 to the next level. What moves you and inspires you for your life, not just your home. Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years, your ideal life? It can be a place or even a lifestyle or the type of person you want to be. Think about it in detail and write it all out and then create a vision board.  Look through a magazine and find images that move you. Tear those out and use them. Like exercise #2, it will not only help us know what we want, it will help us know what to eliminate.

4. Stop, think, and refocus. When you feel a situation stealing your joy, you and only you have the power to turn that around, but you must have a battle plan, so here it is: Stop, think, and refocus. Joy will always come from within, but you have to do things differently, though, if you want change. So the first step is to stop what you are doing. You must catch yourself and stop yourself from doing what you have always done. The next step is to think. Think to yourself, “Am I going to let this steal my joy?” That’s right…you have the power. At this point you are at a crossroad, and you are consciously present in the moment of choice. This is a good place. This is a place where change can happen. Make good choices. And lastly, refocus. Is there any good at all that you can see in this situation. Even something small. In a big picture, there are many small pictures. Don’t be committed to being right. Be open to seeing situations from different perspectives. Your joy depends on it. Find something good on which you can refocus your thinking and energy. You may still not be happy about the situation, but it may no longer have the power to still your joy.

5. Feel. Feel the joy. Feel the gratitude. Just as anger can be a powerful and palpable emotion, so can joy. Feel it. Let yourself go and be happy. Immerse yourself in it no matter what your situation. When you are grateful for something, feel that completely. Take a few minutes and feel that joy. When you are imagining the life you want, feel what it would feel like to have that, to be that. Feel it. This is where we begin to make it a reality in our lives.

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Leading ladies have joy in their lives. I mean how can they not, they’re leading ladies. Wouldn’t you be happy if you were a leading lady? Of course! Well, my friend, you are!  You are a strong, beautiful, brave woman, so smile away!

Many people think we need a reason for joy. That doesn’t hurt, and many times we have more reasons that we realize. We are just not focused on them. Other times, our lives can be quite the train wreck. Either way it doesn’t matter. You can still choose joy. Beautiful, heart palpitating joy! We don’t realize how much of our power we give away when we make bad choices and take a victim mentality. Leading ladies choose to be survivors, thrivers but never victims.

I love to be happy. I love how it feels. I love how it looks on me. I love how other people look at me when my joy is just spontaneously spilling over!

I saw Goldie Hawn’s daughter, Kate Hudson, on the Oprah Show a couple of years ago and could not get something she said out of my head. It became one of my goals to find out more.

Dancing isn’t the only passion Goldie passed along to her daughter. Kate says her mother also taught her to live joyfully. “That’s a big word in our family. My mom dedicates her life to understanding what that is,” she says. “To understand your happiness or what makes you happy in your life is something that we grew up around.”

Every time I see Goldie Hawn or her daughter, Kate Hudson, they have a smile on their faces. What a great thing to pass on to your child. Joy.

“When Kate Hudson was asked about her relationship with Alex Rodriguez, she was hush but stated that she was happy and full of joy….with a smile on her face.”

You know what? I believe she really is. You can practically feel it radiate from both Kate and her mom. They make me happy just to look at the expression of joy on their faces. I hope that others can see that on me, too. It wasn’t always that way, though.

Not that long ago I realized I was missing that from my life. I came to realize that I was the unhappiest, happy person that I knew. That is hard to wrap your head around. And I think it is even harder to explain. Imagine a really happy person trapped in a dark place. A place with a dark cloud. A place where it just makes you sad. It caused me to make some changes in my life or more accurately inside myself. I wanted to have joy in my life.

The most important lesson that I learned is that joy does not come externally. It is internal.

Life is not a perfect. Things will happen. Bad things happen, but it is how we view these that determine our joy level. We can give all of our attention and focus to the bad, and joy will slowly just get up and walk right out of the room. Or you can choose to acknowledge a situation, but perhaps look at it from a different point of view, essentially create a different story.  There is always more than one side to a story or one perspective.  In your mind, stand up and walk around the situation.  Seeing it in a different light can sometimes make all the difference.  When we put all of our focus on a the bad things and get wrapped up in them, then we are not seeing the good, we are not walking in peace, joy or love. It is all negative energy.  And it’s a cycle, a bad cycle. Think about it. Have you ever walked into a room all happy and in a great mood and encountered a really big grump? You can instantly feel it. Chances are that you can only take so much of that before you are grumpy, too, at least with that person. Whatever you are will attract more of the same. People will respond to you accordingly. And on and on it goes. Now, why is it that the grumpy people tend to influence the joyful people more, I have no idea. Maybe it depends on how well you have mastered making your joy an internal thing versus an external thing. Something to think about.

So how do we get that? By practicing joy.

Yep. When you are learning something new, you have to practice it. It is the same with joy. I’m not a joy expert like Goldie Hawn or her daughter,  Kate Hudson.  They have had years to practice being joyful, but I am more joyful than I was two years ago.  I found that by having a system in place, a joy plan, I made way more progress than just wanting to be more joyful.  Wanting it was a start, and it gave me the motivation to find out more and make a plan.  I do these regularly.  Some of these I do every day, sometimes twice a day.  I’ve always heard it said that you it takes 21 days to make something a habit.  That is why doing things here and there are not nearly as helpful.  It’s the daily doing of something that makes it a new habit, a new way of thinking.

Remember, this isn’t about changing the external as much as it is the internal. Nothing in my life has gotten better, except me. Choose joy. You will be so glad you did!


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