When I was born, I was given two names. My English name is Lisa and my Hebrew name Aliza, which means joy. However, for as long as I can remember, I considered myself to be an “old soul,” someone who is sensitive, empathetic to others, and kind of super serious. And sometimes this constellation of attributes overshadowed my ability to be joyful.
After three experiences with death and illness occurred in my family in a ten-month period, I was determined to embrace joy whenever possible. I never took those precious moments of joy for granted after my family’s world imploded. Today, I relish the opportunity to walk in the park in the evening, or spend time with a close friend whom I hadn’t seen in awhile and picking up our conversation right where we left off. So when both of my sons were grown and went off to university, I committed to ratcheting up the volume on my Joy-O-Meter. What a difference this decision has made in my ability to experience greater happiness for myself and for others. One of the most obvious and wonderful aspects of joy is that it is generative—it expands each time that you experience it. Another sure-fire way to experience more happiness is to do something kind for someone else, such as giving thoughtful word, holding open a door, or making a meal if someone is ill. Simple altruistic acts connect us to others in meaningful ways.
At the same time, Positive Psychology research has demonstrated that one of the greatest obstacles to happiness is when people relentlessly chase happiness—as if it was a butterfly that you could capture in a net. Like most things in life, a healthy balance of feeling all of our feelings is the most positive, sustainable approach.
Another important factor to consider when thinking about what lights you up or makes you feel full of joy is recognizing that there’s tremendous variety in what makes individuals happy. For me, I discovered that so many of the activities I enjoyed as a teenager still delight me today. This includes singing, laughing, swimming, and connecting with people in meaningful ways. When you know what your sure-fire energizers are, then the next logical step to increase your joy is to make a commitment to infuse them throughout your day—or at least to connect with them more than every once in a while. It’s never boring to think about simple actions you can incorporate into each day. Variety is the spice of life and has been scientifically proven to generate even more happiness. So if you want to achieve ninja-level joy, consider mixing things up with many different combinations. For example, sometimes I like to sing on my morning walk to the pool, and other times I like to sing on a facetime visit with my granddaughter. Mixing it up keeps it more exciting each time. You’ll discover how the same action has unique cadence in different settings.
So, how are you going to flex your happiness muscles and infuse your days with joy?
I’m sending you strength and love.
Soaringwords is the power to heal.