With everything going on in the world today, it can be easy to feel sad and defeated. We could probably all use some more joy. Thankfully, you don’t have to wait for others to bring happiness your way — you can spread some joy yourself today! Here are 10 ideas of ways to spread joy in your everyday life:
1. START WITH YOURSELF
You know when they say you have to fill yourself up before you pour into others? Reverend Hazel Owens, licensed marriage and family therapy associate at Christian Theological Seminary, says this is so important.
“It’s important to first see how we recognize joy for ourselves. Can I go inward within myself and do what fills my cup up and brings me joy?” Hazel said. “And then once I am filled, I can pour out effectively and spread that to others. We can’t access that genuinely until we have done some inner stuff.”
Hazel says the way to do so is by soul care: engaging your senses, moving your body, and participating in activities that keep you grounded and relaxed.
2. SHARE UPLIFTING SOCIAL CONTENT
Recently, I spent time going through who I follow on Instagram and unfollowed accounts that didn’t bring me joy. That was such a good feeling! I’m guilty of playing the comparison game often, and it never ends well. Instead of feeling bad about myself when I scroll, I have freshened up my feed so I can see encouraging content instead. And while I want to see joyful content, I want to make sure I’m sharing uplifting content as well. Before you post, ask yourself, “Is this kind?” “Is this uplifting?” “Will this bring joy to others?” Think about sharing an inspiring quote or funny video onto your feed so others can smile when they scroll as well.
3. USE LAUGHTER TO UNLOCK JOY
Speaking of funny, one way to spread joy is to spread laughter. When her clients are too focused on a problem, Therapist Danielle Ireland encourages her clients to shift the focus to laughter. You can look up funny memes, watch a comedy, or reach out to a friend who always makes you laugh.
“Laughter can flood our brain and body with good feeling hormones and lift our mood,” Danielle said. “I’ve often heard clients share that after a little sleep, space, and laughter the problem almost solved itself. Sometimes the greatest shift is not our external circumstances, but rather how we feel about them. In this way, feeling joyful isn’t the opposite of having problems. Joy is an emotion that gives us greater access to navigating them.”
4. SMILE AND MAKE EYE CONTACT
Amidst our busy schedules, it’s easy to focus only on what we have to get done and not about those around us. While you are grocery shopping, be sure to thank the workers for stocking the shelves. When you wait for the fast food worker to hand you your food, be sure to acknowledge them and say hello. While passing by someone, go ahead and give them a smile. You never know what others are going through, and Brooke Randolph, Executive Director of Counseling at The Green House, says just a smile and eye contact could make their entire day.
“Smiling and making eye contact is one of the fastest, easiest ways to spread joy as it communicates to the other that they are seen and worth acknowledgement,” Brooke said. “In a world that is more and more disconnected and polarized, simply smiling at someone can have a big impact on their day.”
5. PASS ON YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS
We all have something we’re good at, so why not pass it on to others? If there is something you are especially skilled at, like cooking or gardening, for example, consider hosting a free, informal class to share your knowledge about this skill with others. This is an easy way to spread empowerment and joy to others around you.
6. GIVE A COMPLIMENT TO A STRANGER
I’m sure when you’re waiting for your coffee order you’ve noticed the person next to you and thought that their shirt was cute or that they have a great pair of eyeglasses. Why not be a little bold and actually tell them that?
“Spreading joy doesn’t always have to be tangible, such as paying for someone’s order in the drive-thru,” Hazel said. “That’s great, but what are some intangible ways that you can still spread joy and be a light to someone?”
7. CONSIDER ADDING A TIP
The barista who made your special coffee order, the server who made sure your drink was always refilled, and many others in the service industry are doing a fabulous job every day, and many are making minimum wage. If you have been financially blessed, try leaving a generous tip as a way of thanking them for their service.
8. SEND A MEAL OR CARE PACKAGE
Have a friend or loved one that is going through a big life change or a difficult season? A very helpful way to spread joy to them is leaving a meal or care package on their front door.
Brooke says as she works with adoptive and foster parents, they usually are managing more than the average family, and a surprise meal can make a huge difference.
“In the midst of the homework and bedtime struggle of weeknights and making sure all the kids get to all their appointments, not having to cook can allow parents to focus more on connection and emotional needs, which will pay off dividends in the days to come,” Brooke said. “Even just a small surprise ‘thinking about you’ package can re-energize the mom that is short on sleep and working to meet all the needs for everyone in their household.”
9. GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY
There are so many people in our community who are struggling to make ends meet and are definitely missing out on joy. There are many ways to give back and help others: You can consider making a financial donation, giving away your unneeded clothes, or donating canned goods to a local charity who serves those in need.
10. EXPRESS YOUR GRATITUDE
Have someone in your life who gives you joy? Be sure to tell them! Send them a nice note thanking them; you can even include a small gift so they can feel joyful as well.
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