Friday, June 6, 2008

Get Happy!

What brings you joy?

I would love to know the first thing that popped in your head. Have you experienced that lately?

If not, why not?

I have been taking surf lessons the last few days and when I am on a wave, I have a smile from ear to ear and feel so happy I might burst. It got me thinking about joy.

Joy is defined as the emotion of great happiness. If we all felt joy more often, I believe the world would be a better place.

Here are a few things that bring me joy:

• Surfing 
• Playing with Cody & Lexi
• Watching someone I don’t know, using the Valslide at the gym
• Dancing
• Finishing a great workout
• Seeing a client master a tricky new move
• Reading nice blog comments
• Running with my tribe (more on this later)
• Reading Red Carpet Ready success stories
• Watching motivational sport movies like The Rookie, Miracle, and Rocky.

Want to feel happier? 

Here are my top 4 tips for getting more joy:

1. Know what brings you joy and do more of that. Okay, we can’t always be surfing or dancing, or what ever it is for you, but certainly there are small things you can do each day. Maybe it is watching a funny or motivational video on youtube. Maybe it is surprising a loved one with a love note in their brief case or lunch box. Maybe it is taking a few minutes to read a couple of pages in your favorite novel or motivational book. Find something you can do today that makes you smile or laugh.

2. Fake it until you make it. If you are really stressed or are having a hard time finding joy in your life, act as if you are happy by smiling at others. Generally the response you get will make you feel good. 

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh said:

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, 
but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

3. Exercise regularly. I don’t need scientific studies to tell me that exercise can ease depression, anxiety and stress. I have long considered exercise my wonder drug. My motto “you are one workout away from a good mood” says it all. If you are not exercising regularly you might find it difficult to dump daily stress, worries or frustration. Think of exercise as the “Norton Utilities” for your body. When you’re clogged with worry and stress it is hard to hear joy knocking on your door.

4. Count your blessings. Recognize what is good in your life and focus on it. You will quickly be reminded that you do have things to be joyful about.

Joy Blockers

If you haven’t experienced much joy lately, check to see if one or more of these joy blockers are in the way.

• Clutter: It is nearly impossible to relax or feel happy when every surface is covered with papers, bills, magazines, and other clutter. I recently did a major clutter clearing and it was almost as if I could breathe easier.

• Lack of sleep: Stop with the bragging about only needing 5 hours of sleep and go take a nap. Besides the fact that failing to get enough sleep heightens the risk for a variety of major illness such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity, it is really hard to feel happy when you are chronically sleep deprived.

• Poor nutrition: Much like the lack of sleep, poor nutrition contributes to a variety of major illness but it in addition, it simply does not allow you to function optimally. Think about how you feel when its 3pm and you haven’t eaten or if you over indulged on some greasy Mexican food. It’s hard to feel really joyful. 

• Over-scheduled: We have become a society of schedule driven Blackberry (aka: Crackberry) obsessed people. Often joy wants to sneak up on you, but without a little breathing room it can’t get in. So create some breathing room. Take your child to the park and watch her laugh as she feeds the ducks. Share a funny story with your best friend. Take an early morning walk and you might see something special like an amazing rainbow or a mama duck feeding her babies. These moments of joy might have been missed if you were rushing to your next appointment or texting on your Blackberry.



teeniebitsweeter said...

Valerie - This blog was really really really REALLY inspiring. I think I have a lot more joy blockers than joy makers and it's definitely something I need to work on. Thanks for making me want to pick myself up and be a happier person!

Lanceman said...

Joy makes life so much sweeter! I find joy in blog comments, basketball games with my kids, an unplanned trip to the local custard stand, and in good beer and conversation. Great post!

Valerie Waters said...

Thank you guys for sharing. That is another thing that gives me joy! val