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5 ways to create joy in your life

Photo: Jenny Hill/Unsplash
It’s a fairly universal consensus that recent events like the pandemic, global conflicts, and social and economic upheavels have left us with a vague feeling of disquiet. For better or worse, they have reshaped our attitude towards life, work, money, health, relationships, and the way we think and function every day. While most of us have resumed normal lives and careers, many among us are apprehensive of what terrible things the future might have in store for us. To add to that, a morbid fascination with disturbing and tragic news is making the situation worse, swamping our minds with fearful thoughts and adverse reactions.

Fortunately, we can take steps to prevent the “What next?” syndrome from sucking the joy out of our lives. We can begin small and build it up from there. These microsteps – small, manageable changes or actions – can improve our mental and emotional well-being, and motivate us to lead a more positive and meaningful life. For ourselves as well as for those we care about.

Slow down and live in the present

The practice of mindfulness is probably the most difficult step but its benefits are known to prevail over negative tendencies. By living in the moment and focusing on a single task at a time, we learn to control our thoughts and strengthen our minds. As Eknath Easwaran, a renowned spiritual teacher and author, observes in his book Take Your Time: The Wisdom of Slowing Down, “When the mind is not rushing about in a hurry, it is calm, alert, and ready for anything. And a calm mind sees deeply, which opens the door to tremendous discoveries: rich relationships, excellence in work, a quiet sense of joy.” Side by side, meditation and deep breathing helps reduce worries and anxieties, making us more aware of our inner and outer worlds.

Find joy in everyday moments

Happiness can be found even in the small and simple pleasures of life, something we tend to overlook. One of the surest ways of finding joy in everyday moments is to slow down and savour our daily routines, however mundane they may seem. It could be dining out with the family, taking a walk in the park or having a game-night with friends. To stretch the point, I derive much joy from sitting with my comic-books on many a weekend and marvelling at the colourful ensemble of superheroes and their epic feats.

Give people your undivided attention

When was the last time you had a truly meaningful conversation with someone free from the shackles of your mobile phone? Engaging in a conversation isn’t just about being present – it’s about giving our undivided attention to the person speaking without scrolling through our phones or being distracted by something else, which is considered rude and insensitive. Social decorum requires that we put away our phones and devices while speaking to family, friends or colleagues, and instead listening attentively and getting an element of joy. We often take our personal engagements for granted.

Spend more time outdoors

A useful strategy to worry less and cultivate joy in daily life is to spend more time outdoors and as far as possible in nature. Research shows that being outside – whether it is an early morning walk, a holiday with the family, playing a sport or engaging in an outdoor activity – reduces stress, fear and anxiety, and consequently improves mental and physical wellness. Other positive effects include more exercise, better sleep and decrease in lifestyle diseases. Being away from home or office also means we are less preoccupied with our gadgets and more occupied with our loved ones.

Make a to-do list of small goals

Setting goals, even small ones, can give us a sense of fulfilment and joy. We don’t have to wait until New Year to make resolutions. We can make a to-do list of minor tasks anywhere, anytime, and tick them off as we complete them. These can be anything you set your mind on, such as waking up at a fixed time every morning and doing yoga or exercise; if you’re a writer, then writing a certain number of words before kick-starting your day; maintaining a weekly or monthly budget plan and reviewing it periodically; or having a health goal and making significant lifestyle changes.

While these five microsteps can be a source of joy and help us to relieve mental stress, we can take any number of small actions to boost our wellness and quality of life.

© Prashant C. Trikannad

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These are all such helpful ideas. Keeping a focus on the moment, and and just taking breaths, can be very calming, and keep us from too much stress. And there is nothing like nature to heal us. Thanks for sharing these.

Nov 09, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for commenting, Margot. We appreciate your feedback. Living in the present, in thought, speech and action, is probably one of the most difficult life lessons that one can master. But we believe it can be done with practice, and most other things will fall in place.

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