Joy resides in the big moments of life: birthdays, weddings, romantic dinners, weeklong getaways. But it also resides in the tiny moments between waking up and eating breakfast. Between dinner and falling asleep to the sound of rain against your window. Between opening the door of your home and opening the door to your car.
Joy is present when we look up at the sky. When we hug our loved ones tightly, fully. When we read stories to our kids. When we create our own stories. When we nosh on our favorite meal. When we cuddle on the couch with our spouse. When we walk along the street and catch the scent of cinnamon from our favorite bakery. When we realize the miracle of everything our bodies do.
We can experience joy by simply paying close attention to these moments, by savoring them with all our senses.
We also can cultivate joy by taking compassionate care of ourselves, by carving out fulfilling rituals, by being ourselves.
In her newest book A Year of Daily Joy: A Guided Journal to Creating Happiness Every Day, Jennifer Louden shares these kinds of inspiring ideas (along with inspiring images and quotes) for creating joy in the everyday. Here are five of my favorite ideas from her uplifting book.
1. Make your mornings meaningful.
How we start the morning often sets the tone for the rest of the day. Yet so many of us spring out of bed in a panic.
Louden suggests thinking “about the most delicious way to start your day and paint a realistic yet nurturing scenario.” Tomorrow, pick one element of your routine, and act on it.
2. Ponder “bottomless questions.”
Louden defines bottomless questions as “the kind that tantalize and stretch you.” She shares these examples: “How can I love more?” and “What do I want to create today?”
3. Listen to your body.
Louden suggests focusing on your body’s wisdom. Ask yourself: “What do you need to feel refreshed? What part of you could use some attention?” Your answers might be anything from stretching to scheduling a massage to even sighing.
4. Be yourself.
Think about the moments you feel most at home with yourself and the moments you feel most alive. Write them down. Read your list, and spot any patterns.
Do you feel most like your authentic self with some people? In specific places? When you’re engaging in certain activities? Louden suggests giving ourselves more of these experiences.
5. Pen a wise letter.
Close your eyes, and imagine that 20 years have passed. Picture your future self. Consider how you spend your days. Consider what brings you joy. Maybe even consider the above ideas after viewing them from the perspective of your wiser self.
“Write down what advice, wisdom and clarity the grown-up you might offer the younger you today,” Louden writes. Post this letter where you can view it often as a key reminder.
Joy is present in all kinds of moments. It’s present when we reflect on thoughtful questions, when we listen to ourselves, when we follow what brings us meaning.
Sometimes, we cultivate this joy. And, sometimes, we don’t have to do a thing. We simply open our eyes and breathe it in.