You can feel it coming. You’ve been a little on edge lately. Eating feels more like medication than nourishment. You wake up in the morning exhausted. You can’t remember the last time you did something for yourself. The work you once loved is more of a burden than a joy. Maybe it’s time to change jobs. You start to ask yourself if you married the wrong person. Why can’t I seem to find happiness? Why is life so difficult?
Do you resonate with this feeling? I do.
When life lacks joy, the natural place to look is your circumstances. “What in my life is making me unhappy and how can I change it?”
If you take an honest look at the world, joy is not a guaranteed benefit of great circumstances. How do you explain miserable rich people and happy poor people? How is it possible for two people in the exact same situation to have completely different levels of joy?
- If you are a middle class and miserable, more money will make you rich and miserable.
- If you are ungrateful for your spouse, you’ll be ungrateful for a new and “better” partner as well.
- If the cold weather makes you depressed, a warm climate will make you hot and bothered.
- If your co-workers don’t appreciate you now, you will likely feel underappreciated at your next job too.
Instead of trying to change your circumstances, start working on YOU.
1. Start with this question: What am I grateful for? I challenge you to write down 25 things you feel fortunate to have. Having trouble? Start with your body parts. Can you see, can you hear, can you touch? Are you able to walk? Do you have fingers to write? Are there people in your life who love you? Are their opportunities for you? Are you free? Keep going, keep writing. No matter how small it may seem. You will find that you have been given much.
2. Take a day to unplug: Turn off your phone, close your computer and spend some time breathing. Set aside a few hours to take a hike through the woods, by the water or through a field. Interrupt your daily routine and spend a day letting your mind wander and dream.
3. Quit Something: “But, my momma said quitters never win and winners never quit!” Winners quit all the time. If an activity is no longer valuable to you or others, why continue? “My friend would be so disappointed if I didn’t come anymore” is not a good enough reason. Create some space for new opportunities and free yourself from activities that are not worth your time.
4. Give Something: Interested in immediate joy? Give something away. Buy someone’s coffee in front of you in line. Leave a huge tip for your waitress. Bring your co-worker the snack he loves this afternoon. Joy is contagious. You can create a title wave of joy in your office today. Few experiences are more fun than giving.
Make it a great day!