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How to Find Joy… Even When Life Is Feeling Awful

smilies-bank-sit-rest-160739When we are experiencing loss and sadness in our life, everyday can feel like a struggle.

Whether it is recovering from loss of a loved one, divorce, a lay-off, or anything else, we forget to care for ourselves and to find joy at the time when we need it most.

Learning how to reinvent ourselves, establish our independence again, and figure out what we want during this next chapter of our lives is a bit overwhelming. Oftentimes, we may forget to see all the wonderful things that await us. 

Often, we get so bogged down with the stress, overwhelm, and emotional roller-coasters that we forget about all the things that we have going for us. But learning to find joy in your life, especially while navigating loss, is an incredible gift that you can give to yourself. And it can be easier than ever when you ask yourself the following.  

What amazing things are in your life that you may have overlooked?

We have this unfair expectation that only huge milestones in our lives are worth celebrating. But what about the day-in/day-out struggles that we endure?

We don’t give ourselves enough credit for the things we have accomplished. Every day that you take control of your life, every day that you learn a little more about managing money and re-entering the workforce, every day that you get a little bit stronger and take care of yourself and put yourself first and realize that you are worthy of getting your confidence back and reclaiming your life is something you should celebrate.

So, what things will you start to celebrate? I’ve listed a few of my own!

  • I choose to celebrate that I am no longer in a relationship that was unhealthy for me.
  • I will celebrate that I am a survivor. I got through this, and now I know I can get through anything.

If you are still having trouble with trying to identify things that bring you joy, don’t worry! Finding joy in your life is the most important step to learning how to heal and move on. It is also the easiest but most critical component of taking care of yourself as you recover from loss. Another way to approaching finding joy can come from asking yourself the following. 

What is yours that nobody can take?

Answering this question establishes the solid foundation for celebrating what is good in your life. These answers are simpler than you think. Some of my answers, especially during the hardest times of my divorce, included:

  • Coming home to a clean house — everything just how I left it.
  • The feeling that although I am no longer married, at least I am not in a toxic, unhealthy relationship anymore.
  • Knowing that my dog will always greet me with a wagging tail and sloppy kiss.

Those simple things are ones we usually take for granted, but when you are mindful to the love and beauty that actually surrounds you, just waiting to be acknowledged, you will see dozens of things to be happy about that are right in front of you.

When the world still seems like a disaster, or when you are angry over something that happened today, or you saw something or heard something that triggered you into feeling resentful or grief-stricken, you must do this: 

Write down 5 things for which you are grateful

These things do not have to be extravagant. In fact, the simplest of things are usually the best, because they remind us that we are still alive and that we will be okay. Need some inspiration? Take a look at last night’s entry into my own notebook. 

  • The new spring weather
  • The smell of fabric softener on clean sheets
  • Hot Epsom salt bath before bed
  • My dog, who is always so playful and silly
  • Homemade delicious olive oil cake after dinner

Do this exercise tonight

I prefer doing this as I am getting ready for bed. After I finish the night rituals but still have a few minutes before I know that I am going to zonk out is when I write these things. It doesn’t really matter when you do it exactly, but I find that doing it at the end of the day is the best way to get closure on any nonsense that has gotten in my space, as well as celebrating any good things that have come my way, too.

Make it as easy as possible for yourself

I keep a medium-sized notebook with a pen on my nightstand, next to my alarm clock. That way, I will see it every night. It can be as simple of a notebook as you want — some people get super-fancy and call them Gratitude Journals. I just call it a lifeline to joy.

A simple habit can change your outlook

This is not a just-one-and-done thing, however. You must make this a habit in order for it to work. Some studies show that it takes 21 days of practice to make something a habit, but you will start to notice the change in your outlook in three days of writing.

You may also see patterns of things for which you are grateful — things that appear in your notebook regularly. It’s not a coincidence. It’s a sign that these are the things in your life that bring you joy, and these are the things you should celebrate. These are the things that, when you are angry or lonely, have the power to center you again and remind you that you have control of your life, that you are strong, and that regardless of where you have been, you will get your life and happiness back.

 

How to Find Joy… Even When Life Is Feeling Awful


Martha Bodyfelt

Martha Bodyfelt is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach® whose website "Surviving Your Split," helps readers navigate their divorce with less stress and drama, so they can move on with their lives. For your Free Divorce Warrior Survival Kit, stop by http://survivingyoursplit.com/ or drop Martha a line at [email protected]


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APA Reference
Bodyfelt, M. (2018). How to Find Joy… Even When Life Is Feeling Awful. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 7, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-find-joy-even-when-life-is-feeling-awful/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 2 May 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.