I’ve always been particularly fond of the number 13. I was born on the 13th — and it was a Friday, no less. Despite pervasive superstition surrounding the number, I’ve never found it to be anything other than positive. This goes for days of the month, the 13th floor, or elevator stop, age, times doing something, whatever. So, I find it interesting and a little exciting that when I decided to write about ways to live a joyful life, I’ve come up with exactly 13. I’m sure I could write more, but I’m content with these tips, for they’ve served me well and may also work for you.
Being cooped up all day indoors does nothing to jumpstart your energy, lift you from a morose mood, change your perspective or make you a more interesting person to be around. Once you get outside, however, something immediately changes. For one thing, you’re breathing in more oxygen, getting this life-affirming element into your lungs and doing something profoundly good for your body. For another, there’s always much to see outdoors, no matter the season, time of day, where you are geographically, and whether you’re by yourself or with others.
I love to walk in nature. It calms me, helps me to focus, relieves stress, works up a sweat, and makes me feel like I’ve given myself a gift. Short walk or long hike, working in the garden or engaged in physical exercise, being in nature is an easy, free way to put joy in your life.
- Indulge your curiosity.
If something is mysterious, I’m curious. If I don’t know anything about it, I want to learn enough to satisfy my inquisitiveness. I don’t have to become proficient to indulge my curiosity. I just need to step out of my comfort zone and delve into that which I find interesting, challenging, maybe even a little risky.
For example, I used to wonder what snorkeling was like. I don’t like confined spaces, although I’m not clinically diagnosed. Water has always scared me, despite me being born under a water sign. Still, the allure of snorkeling finally captured my attention during a trip to the Caribbean to the point that I put aside my fears and dipped into the crystal-clear waters to check it out. I was thrilled with the vivid colors of seemingly millions of fish of all sizes and types. I never expected to find such joy in an activity, let alone one I previously avoided.
- Live with no regrets.
There’s no point to holding onto regret. It’s a useless emotion, one that will only eat away at you and prevent you from maximizing enjoyment of life. While it can seem difficult to let go of regrets, especially if you’ve held onto them for a long time, you must free yourself from them to move forward in joyful living.
- Savor every moment.
Life is short, all things considered. Why squander it with unnecessary emotional turmoil, ceaselessly striving for material things, trying to one-up your peers, racing about and ignoring what’s right in front of you? Besides, if you’re so focused on something else, you lose track of the present. Once this moment is lost, it’s gone forever. So, too, are all the little joys you could have treasured: the laugh of your child at play, the touch of your loved one, the sounds of birds, the taste of a delicious meal, the fragrant scent of pine needles on a Christmas tree.
- Finish what you start.
I’ve known a few people who always have some new project they get involved in. Somehow, however, they never get around to finishing any of them. In fact, I’ve managed to put too much on my own agenda at times and needed to learn the lesson that accomplishment means finishing what you start. The satisfaction I feel from a job well done adds to my joy of life.
- Dream big.
I once had a boss who advised me to lower my expectations. I always thought that was both short-sighted and mean. It also made me bristle. Who was he to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do with my life? After all, if I wanted to work hard at a difficult goal, like getting a college degree, advanced degree, additional training, this was my choice. Instead of trying to discourage me, he should have given me encouragement. Fortunately, I listened to my inner voice and not his off-putting words. The moral of this story is to dream big, and follow it up with decisive action.
- Be appreciative.
Don’t we always respond better to those who show us appreciation than those who take our efforts for granted? The lesson in this is to make it a point to say thank you to others, and mean it. The gesture costs nothing and gives priceless rewards. When you’re appreciative, you’re thankful for what you receive and demonstrate your appreciation in words and deeds.
- Ask for help with a smile.
Some of us have trouble asking for help, believing that others may think less of us, that we should be able to do this (whatever it is) on our own, that it shows weakness, lack of character or some other negative trait we don’t want associated with us. The truth is that everyone needs help sometime. Instead of being afraid to ask for it, try asking for help with a smile. This predisposes another to think kindlier of the request, and the requestor, for that matter. It’s also more likely to result in the help you need.
- Show your love.
Whether platonic, romantic, filial or something else, love is an incredibly powerful emotion that can transform your life. There’s no better way to feel joy than to love, to give and receive it freely.
- Freely forgive.
Everyone has something in their past that’s troubling, often due to their own doing. Beating yourself up over what you’ve done that’s caused harm to others won’t change things, but you can ease the burden by forgiving yourself. In comparable manner, instead of holding a grudge against those who’ve hurt you, freely forgive them as well. If you want joy in your life, you must forgive.
- Laugh a lot.
This is an easy one. Laughter is a key ingredient in a joyful life. It doesn’t need to be belly laughs to count. Finding the humor in everyday situations lightens stress levels and evens out moods. It also helps make being around others both easier and more pleasant. What better way to add joy to your day than laughing?
- Be the bigger person.
Are you the kind of person that tends to criticize the efforts of others, finding fault and picking apart whatever they do? That may say more about your own insecurities than any shortcoming in the other person. And when a situation occurs where you’re at a stand-off with someone else, you can ease the tension and pave the way for resolution by being the bigger person. Once strife, disagreement and discord are defused, the path toward more satisfying experiences becomes clearer.
- See the opportunities in mistakes.
Who hasn’t made a mistake? Sometimes it seems like we can’t get out of our own way for the number of mistakes we keep making. Yet, there’s an underlying silver lining in mistakes that we’d do well to pay heed to. What seems like a failure could hold a key to a solution to the problem, an alternative approach to take, the discovery of new interests, the tapping into an as-yet-unknown skill or talent. Besides, when you regard mistakes as learning opportunities, you increase your chances of finding and experiencing joy in life.