Happiness and joy are often misunderstood concepts. Things, some people believe, just happen in other people’s lives, and not in others’. But that’s not the case. Joy doesn’t just happen; it’s intentional. And yes, you do need to actually plan for it.
See, those who experience the most joy don’t just rush through life, sad and disappointed; joy and happiness didn’t simply find their way to them. In fact, oftentimes the happiest people actually put effort into finding joy, creating it for themselves, and recognizing it around them and in their own lives.
While it may seem like a secret happiness club, there aren’t a whole lot of secrets, but a few habits and shifts in thinking that make planning for true joy a priority in your life.
Here are a few simple ways to start planning your joy today for a happier life.
Take Time for You
People who take the time to plan for their joy understand that no one, no matter who you are, can pour from an empty glass. And when you don’t take time for yourself, to recharge and relax, you soon won’t be able to help others. Your needs are just as important as everyone else’s, including your spouse, children, parents, bosses, and friends, so it’s time you start acting accordingly. If you don’t, no one else will either.
Appreciate Big and Small Things
Sure, trips to the European countryside make you happy, but so may a perfect sunset or a baby’s laughter. Think about the things – both big and small – that bring you joy, make you happy, and cause spontaneous smiles to erupt on your face and write them down – all of them. From the smell of fresh dirt in the spring to going to Disney World, list everything you can think of that brings you happiness and find ways to incorporate those things into your life whenever you can.
Live for Today
Too often, people think that tomorrow will be less busy than today. “Once I get caught up,” “after the children are grown,” and “as soon as the house is paid off” are all said with the idea that the future will be easier or less busy, but that’s not what happens. People wait their entire lives for tomorrow, and fail to live today. So it’s time to start living. Take that list you made and look at it. What can you do this week that will bring you joy? While skiing in Telluride may not be feasible, a coffee date with a friend from college is totally doable, and well-worth penciling into your schedule.
For those bigger goals, the ones that may take years, start figuring out how to make it happen. Create actionable and achievable steps that will help you reach your goals. Not only does working towards a goal inspire joy in your life, but the actual process of planning something you enjoy increases happiness all by itself.
Pay Attention and Be Grateful
One of the big secrets of those who plan and experience the most joy is being mindful. A lot of the things in life that can bring us pleasure tend to be small things that surround us all the time. The smell of fresh baked apple pie. Holding your partner’s hand. Watching old episodes of Friends. Catching sight of a rainbow. When you start paying attention to these small things, you start finding many of them in your daily life. It’s not that they’re new. They’ve always been there. You just have to intentionally slow down and pay attention to them. And when you do, you start to realize how truly amazing life can be. And this increases your gratitude. And the more gratitude you have, the more joy that comes to your life.
Improve Your Health
While it’s not necessary to hit the gym every day to find happiness in your life, there is a connection between your health and joy. When you take care of your body, give it the nourishment and physical activity it needs, it responds better. Learning how to reduce stress and unplug from the chaos and constant stimulation also have huge impacts on joy and happiness. So start developing as many healthy habits as you can and eliminating those not-so-healthy ones. Soon, you start feeling better, and it begins to feel like scheduling a workout and scheduling your joy are one and the same.