7 Steps to Increase Your Joy

Wake up in the morning, silence the alarm and sit up in your bed.  Stop right there. How are your emotions as you stretch, rub your eyes and think “it’s today already?”  This is the deciding moment, when you set the tone of what today will be like for you, and your impact on the people you encounter.

1. Be of Good Cheer. Yes, there are days when we all fall out of the wrong side of the bed.  If you do, crawl back in, close your eyes for  a second and try again.  Deep breath in through the nose upon sitting up, and then blow out through your mouth saying “Good Morning!”  Hop out of the covers and walk through your room, deep breath in the nose, hold, out the mouth.  Give yourself five minutes of constant motion, deep breathing, and a positive mantra like “Every day in every way I’m getting stronger and stronger.”  Visualize your faith like a tangible force around you, like you’re putting on the full armor of God every day.  You’re comfortable in your skin, confident in your stance, able to meet every challenge of the day.  You’re faithful!

2. Set the stage/Imagine your moments. Visualize the days events.  Going to a meeting?  Don’t rehearse as much as picture yourself, calm, confident and prepared.  Smile.  Have a great, clear image of yourself, smiling back in the mirror.  Say “I love you” to your own reflection, eye to eye.  Smile again. Choose to look and feel like you’re on top of your game.  Need to have a talk with a coworker which could include some rough spots?  Go through the reactions and response of those moments and re-frame them with positives.  Really focus on the feeling of keeping your cool no matter what, and actively listening.  When we’re defensive in preparation, we’re angry in confrontation.

3. Protein, Carbohydrates and Memory. If your idea of breakfast comes in a fast food bag or cup of coffee, think again.  Be creative enough to prep a micro omelet the night before: spray a bowl with non stick, chop up your favorite veggies, nuke for a half minute under clear film.  Crack, scramble and add a little milk to two eggs (pull the yolk if you’re cholesterol is high.)  Dump it all back in the microwave, covered with a paper towel for a minute, stir, garnish with chopped cheese and you’re out the door.  You can make it a burrito or a bowl.  With fast, healthy stuff like this, save yourself the time, calories and stress of the fast food toxicity that awaits.  Starving?  Proven to reduce your productivity and mood significantly.  Don’t do it.  Break your fast and fuel your body with something whole – fruits, nuts, omelet, whole grains.

4. Take a brisk walk. If you don’t get to work out first thing in the morning, then try taking a brisk walk from the car to the office.  You want to raise your heart level and maintain it for ten minutes or so; I used the stairs and parked in the far parking lots on days when I needed this pick me up.  Again the mantra “Every day in every way, God’s leading me higher and higher.”  What ever variation of it you need…something positive to focus you for the journey.

5.  Permission to rest. Although it’s not appropriate in America by “cultural standards” a ten minute power nap can change the course of your day.  Find a night quiet place to meditate or simply unplug for a few minutes.  Turn the sound down on life and allow yourself to breathe deeply.

6.  Make home a priority. Making your entrance and exit from home meaningful is a big part of joy.  Be consistent with your family, and be expressive about love, slow to anger.  Try the random surprise flower or the special thing that makes your family smile.  Expensive is not important – connected is.  Make time for your mate to talk more about how each of your feel, deep emotions, dreams, things that are exciting to you on the horizon.  If your joy is low and you share no horizon with your mate, consider getting counseling.  Take date nights and dance, remember the passion and the anticipation of your early years, actually go on a date.  Fall in love with something about your partner that you didn’t notice before, and be joyful in the new discovery.

7. Let your spontaneous out. Take a left turn over a right.  Go to the jazz concert in that small venue, or the play of off-off-off Broadway.  Dress out of character, shop in a thrift store, be free.  Try a micro brew beer in a place where they serve thick cut sandwiches.  Dance in a club that doesn’t open until 11.  p.m.  Yes, they’re still out there.  Go to an art exhibit opening, or check out starving artists downtown in the center.  Don’t do dinner and a movie for a date.  Race go-carts, go bowling, paint-balling, rock climbing…something extraordinary.  Be extraordinary.  If nothing else, check the kids with someone and watch the football game or NASCAR race on the big screen at a local sports bar, root against each other and throw peanuts.  Have fun, let your hair down, relax.

Try all this and see if your joy isn’t improved, that slight smile that says “Yep, I am happy with who I am.”  When you climb back into bed at night, remember to hug yourself and say “I love you.”

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