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How to Beat the Blahs and Bring Joy Into Your Life

Aug 17, 2007
When was the last time you hugged yourself and said: "I bet I am the luckiest person in the world! I feel on top of the world?" Most of us have had an experience like this, and some us have these moments often.

But, if you are saying right now: "What in world is she talking about?" it is time to take a few moments to read this article and learn to have JOY in your life!

Joy is that WOW experience of just being alive. We experience it during intense moments, such as when we fulfill a goal, achieve success, feel connected with others and part of something special, see the beauty in our world and in those we love. You deserve to have this kind of feeling and emotion in your life.

When we talk about joy, we often use the term "bliss" which is being totally absorbed in what we love doing. Nothing else matters during that time. We take a break from our worries and trust that all is right with the world. Researcher and author Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, wrote the book titled Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. In his book, he talks about feeling gratification from what you are doing and being fully engaged and absorbed in whatever you might be doing.

He says that every one of us has the capacity to experience these feelings and emotions, but that happy people are more likely to feel joy more frequently in life. He means that happiness is a habit we can learn. Happiness is determined in part by what we do and how we do it. However, at least half our happiness comes from the ways we perceive our world and the things we expect to happen in our everyday lives. Have you ever heard someone say, "I am going to be happy today and that is just the way it is going to be?" That person is developing her own "happiness high" and has a much greater chance to have joy in her life. She expects to be happy and probably will get her wish.

What are some of the ways these "happiness high" people find joy? Put your perceptions in high gear and:

~Notice what is right. Instead of walking into a room (or your life) and noticing only what is wrong or missing, focus on the many things that are wonderful.

~Be grateful. Even if you have not won the lottery this week, count your blessings. Start with your health, your family, the right to vote and live in a free country, hot and cold water from the tap, the breath of fresh air you just took, a roof over your head, food on the table. Make a list and you will be amazed.

~Remember the kid in you. Children are happy when they are playing and running freely and just being kids. You don't see kids worrying all day about life or world peace. Take time to be a fun-loving kid, to get excited and have fun.

~Be kind. Being kind to others helps you feel good. Help a neighbor find a lost cat or clean up an elderly person's yard. Being kind and offering acts of kindness leads us to happiness and joy.

~Spend time with loved ones. Be a social person and share fun with those you love. When we feel connected with others, we find happiness and joy.

~Don't overdo. Don't try to be all things to all people. Simple acts of kindness are one thing, but giving until you are sucked dry is another thing. Learn to say no to some things and some people. They will understand, and respect you for your honesty. We have to keep something in reserve for ourselves and will actually be better caregivers if we remember to do this.

~Savor every moment. You may have heard of Lance Armstrong. He is the 5-time winner of the famous bicycle race the Tour De France. Five years ago as a young man he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which had spread to his lungs and brain. He is in remission but will tell you he is glad he had cancer because he now looks at life as a gift and he indeed savors every moment he is alive.

Studies have shown that people who express and admit they are happy and find moments of joy live longer than those who have lost or never found their joy.

~Rest. Take time each day to find a quiet, safe haven for yourself. Young mothers, especially, need to find some place and space in time for themselves. The little people they care for will really benefit from having happy moms.

~Put on a happy face. If you look happy, you will more likely be happy. If we see someone coming in with a smile and happy face, we usually feel happy too. Happiness is contagious, so get the bug!

~Pursue your goals. Don't give up on your goals or dreams. Set goals for yourself, work toward them and you will be happy and feel satisfied.

~Last and most important: find your calling. Do not take up space in this world and give nothing back in return. Share your talents and your skills with the world. Don't worry, you'll find you have many things to share if you just pay attention. We all need a reason to get up each day.

If you have lost your way and need to find your joy, please take time for yourself to understand how valuable you are and start today and find your "happiness high."
About the Author
Clinical psychologist Nancy D. O'Reilly, PsyD, has worked with women for more than 25 years. She founded the WomenSpeak Project to offer a supportive atmosphere for growing older in our society that does not support aging. Access ongoing research, e-newsletters, a free online consulting service, and resources about Health and Wellness, Relationships, Finances and Aging itself at http://www.WomenSpeak.com.
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