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September 08, 2020 7 min read

 

"Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough." – Emily Dickinson

 

Time flies when you are having fun! It’s really true.  

 

I can hardly believe that 7 years have flown by since I began this journey that lead me to HUM, a journey that is still unfolding.  The journey began as a complete change in perspective and the start of a mindful lifestyle, with yoga and meditation as my guides - and it became a full life transformation. And these years of forging a new path for myself have been the most joyful years of my life, challenges and obstacles included.  

 

Exactly 7 years ago, I had left a company I had worked at for many years, years that had been filled with joy, passion and accomplishment and also with sorrow, frustration, high-pressure and high-stress. I ended up with chronic stress-related stomach issues and and months of the worst pain I’d ever experienced in my neck and shoulder (I had been holding stress in my body for too long). 

 

I was preparing to return to Canada after five years in New York.  Going to what?  I didn’t know.  I just knew that a very major chapter of my life had closed.  And that the new chapter was all mine to write, however I pleased.  I was conscious of this very special moment.  And the opportunity that it represented.  

 

It was the first time I had really discovered the power of yoga, and was practicing every day at the little yellow studio on West 85th street. That daily yoga practice helped me to find calm and relief from the stress and the intense emotions. Each practice helps me and to stay grounded in the present instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.

 

And I was savouring the moments . Exploring. Seeing. Listening.  Really noticing. Paying close attention to everything I was sensing and experiencing and to how it made me feel, because I wanted to remember that experience. I was instinctively beginning to live with more awareness than I ever had before. I didn’t know it, but I was practicing mindfulness.   

 

One of the things I realized at that time was that I could choose how I want to feel. I could wallow in the intensity of my often-negative emotions. Or I could choose to feel something different.  And I did. I chose joy. And carefully began to cultivate it as much as as possible, until it became a state of mind and heart. Strangely, I think that this simple conscious choice to cultivate joy has made the the biggest difference in how I now live and experience my life.

 

We all need joy, it’s essential to our existence.  But some days we get so caught up in our stress and anxiety and fears and frustrations that we forget we all deserve joy in our lives. These are very challenging times we are living, and perhaps we all need as much help as we can offer ourselves. I believe that focusing more on joy can open the way to feeling a passion for your life, to more inspiration, imagination and creativity, to a greater sense of fulfillment.

 

We certainly won’t feel joy every single day, but if we consciously choose to cultivate it we will have a better chance of living with sustainable joy. 

 

Here are 10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO CULTIVATE JOY.

 

1. Give yourself permission to be happy and then AIM FOR JOY

Never forget that you deserve happiness. So give yourself permission to be happy, and to reach for joy. There are different shades of joy, from subtle contentment to full-blown exuberance, different levels of the same positive energy.   We might consider the different levels of joy like this:

Sense of contentment -a quiet and peaceful sense of well-ness

Happiness- more active, momentary and fleeting, related to something happening in the moment

Joy- more internal and more sustainable than happiness, a more solidly rooted sense of well-being, as though you are at peace with yourself and with the world around you

Exuberance - an ebullient and effervescent form of happiness, perhaps more exposed and visible, infectious, exuberance is more rare and tends to come along at the most magnificent moments of our life

 

I’ll take any of these high vibration emotions, but I aim for a deep-rooted sense of joy.

 

2. Ask yourself the right questions

You could ask yourself each day: What can I do that will make me happy? But you might find a deeper sense of joy if you ask yourself instead: What can I do each day to build a joyful state of mind and heart? What conscious choices can I make to maintain that state of joy? 

 

3. Make joy your daily intention 

Your intention is more than the way you want to feel - it’s about the higher vibration that you want to embody and carry with you into the world.  You could use the intention “I AM JOY” like a mantra to remind yourself that you choose joy, and to firmly install that choice in your heart and mind.  

And If you can’t find joy or happiness today, that's OK!  Just set yourself the intention to cultivate joy or the intention to open yourself to joy some time soon, maybe tomorrow. That intention is already a very powerful step towards feeling true joy.

 

4. Practice yoga for joy

Yoga is a powerful practice that can change your perspective, change your life, and can definitely be a source of deep-rooted joy.  Try one of our Intention-Based yoga practices, I AM JOY, a short sequence which is all about cultivating joy - it is about BEing joy. It is this intention that flavours the poses, and you are invited to luxuriate in the process, the breath, the movement - to savour each sweet sensation in your precious body. Click here to discover the I AM JOY Yoga practice.

 

5. Make your home practice a haven of peace and calm and joy 

Think of your home yoga and meditation practice as your personal time to cultivate peace and calm and joy.  It’s your daily time-out for soul-care.  And it’s also the beautiful space you create in your home that brings joy whenever you step into it. You can create a harmonious practice sanctuary with your choice of yoga props and meditation cushions, set up an altar with objects that inspire you, add crystals, scents (pure and natural essential oils, incense, candles), sounds and soul-soothing music. It all works towards cultivating joy. Here’s a post for more ideas. Here is a post to learn more about about how to Make Your Home Practice a Haven of Peace and Calm.

 

6. Cultivate sisterhood

There is something to be said about the joy found in the bonds of sisterhood, whether they be birth sisters or soul sisters. The connection to other women is one of the most precious resources that we have. Getting together, in groups or one to one, sisters can can support and lift each other up, celebrate each other, laugh together, cry together, solve problems together. Sisterhood is a safe space where we can be open and free. There is much joy to be found here, so find ways to regularly connect with like-minded sisters.

 

7. Do things that open you up to joy

Consciously make choices to do things that bring you joy, any level of joy.

They could be simple things like reading a book with a cup of your favourite tea, listening to beautiful music or having a chat with a friend.  

They could be creative things, such as writing, painting, cooking, gardening, sewing… It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it, what matters is that you enjoy doing it.

They could be work-related things. I’ve found lots of joy through my work over the years, by creating new projects, collaborating with inspiring people, in the sense of accomplishment.

Or they could be exciting things like new adventures, new experiences.

 

8. Connect with nature 

There are many ways you can connect with the lavish abundance of nature. You can go for a walk, listen to the wind in the leaves or the crash of the waves, you can pick a bouquet of wild flowers or look for wild mushrooms. You can hug a tree. Or meditate by a stream. Getting into nature forces you to look closely, to notice, to be aware… and all this will immediately reduce anxiety and stress, and give you a deep sense of simple and pure joy.

 

9. Find delight in the many small moments of happiness

We don’t need to feel exuberance every day to find joy. The “smaller" mindful moments of quiet contentment and happiness can build to become a deeper-rooted sense of joy. So revel in these small happy moments, they are endless if you just notice. A peace found in a beautiful sunset or a panoramic view, the pleasure of opening a gift you receive, of watching others open one you gave them, the excitement of children on Christmas morning, the delicious smell of coffee brewing, the silence of the dawn, the love-filled embrace of a partner, the delight of laughing with a dear friend, the satisfaction of getting something done, the fresh scent of newly washed sheets, the freedom found in a conversation with a stranger….

And remember, smiling makes everything more delightful.

 

10. Thank your lucky stars every day 

People who live in gratitude live in awareness of what is all around them. They are able to recognize and appreciate the good things in their life, in themselves, and in other people.  And studies show that gratitude practice is a pathway to happiness.  Practicing gratitude is easy and can be done every day. Try it, right this minute: think about three things you are grateful for. Or click here to find 5 Easy Ways to Thanks Your Lucky Stars.

 

Joy allows you to see the world differently, it will inspire you and activate your imagination.  Joyful people take on the world and all that it has to offer with a different energy than those who view it from a less positive, lower energy perspective. So do yourself a favour and cultivate joy.

 

 


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