How to Create Joy
I was walking down the street today in Madrid, on my way to meet my friend in Retiro park for a picnic, when a very persuasive sales lady who was handing body lotion samples in front of the cosmetic shop, almost dragged me inside the store. What followed were ten confusing minutes of trying to convince me that their revolutionary face exfoliator is exactly what I need in my life. And what a surprise - it was the last day that I could only pay 80 € instead of 200 € for it. I politely declined three times before walking out of the store, feeling poor and slightly inadequate. The exfoliator was indeed very nice, could I look much better if I used it? Was I going to look younger, healthier, happier and would the world look at me in awe if I use it? As a result, would I feel more confident and joyful, able to take on the world with a shiny clean face?
Then I remembered, joy and confidence are free. And although buying certain things or using certain products can temporarily make you feel joyful and confident, the feeling does not last. And soon enough, you need to buy something else, and something else, to keep those feelings alive. That's what our consumerist society is based upon.
With this in mind, I arrived to Retiro and spend an amazing three hours with my friend, sitting on a blanket in the grass, eating home-made fruit salad, taking in the freshness of the late Saturday morning and talking about life. It made me think of all the things I have in my life, all the actions I can take anytime and anywhere, which are totally free and bring me closer to a balanced life, a life where joy and confidence are the norm.
1. Be in nature
Whether you live in the city, close to a beach, in the middle of the mountains or the desert, explore your natural surroundings. Get out of the house and get active. Walk, hike, run, swim, sit down and marvel. The important part is that you connect with nature, which is so important for our physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
2. Do some yoga
This is my go-to and I've decided that August is #yogaeverydamnday month. I love Yoga with Adriene on Youtube because she promotes a gentle and personal form of yoga. It is about moving mindfully and finding what feels good. You can do this from home or wherever you are, and there's various lengths and moods you can choose from. I love yoga because it addresses all levels of our existence - physical (asanas), mental (mantras), spiritual (breath), energetic. And when all these are in balance, we live in bliss.
3. Prepare a meal
I love to make breakfast, it relaxes me and it is my moment of mindfulness in the morning, where my entire focus goes into the smell of coffee, the slices of avocado, the butter being spread on the warm toast and the tase of orange juice on my lips. Food connects us and has such a powerful effect on our well-being. Because of our busy lifestyle, cooking has become another chore and we often opt for take-out or restaurants. All that is fine, but don't underestimate the power of using your hands in preparing a meal for yourself or your loved ones, even if that meal is a salad of leftovers.
4. Connect with a friend
Truly connect, not on instagram or WhatsApp. If you can, visit them or invite them over. Go for a walk together. What matters is that you have intimacy with a person that is close to you, someone you can relax and be yourself with. Listen to them and share how you feel. You'll be surprised to see how positively it impacts your mood to just be and share with a person that understands you. It shows you that you are perfect the way you are, because someone else sees beauty in you.
5. Let your creativity flow
All humans are creative and we have an innate need to create. Using our hands to create something, whether it is a piece of writing, a meal, a snowman or a flower pot, gives us joy. Draw or color something, even if you consider yourself bad at it. Stop the judgement. Just use your hands. Plant some herbs, make a toy, design a collage or practice your favorite song out loud.
6. Go through childhood pictures and memories
This always gives me a fuzzy feeling and makes me laugh. It also shows me how far I've come, how many things have happened in the past years that I am grateful for. It gives me great hope and excitement for the future.
7. Start a gratitude journal
This one ranks high up and has an immediate effect on your mindset. Take ten minutes every evening or morning to list things that you are grateful for in you life, big or small. Soon enough, you'll start seeing that there is joy all around you.
8. Declutter your home
A cluttered home is a cluttered mind, and a cluttered mind is an anxious mind. Look around you and be honest, how many of the things you own do you really need? Things accumulate energy, so less is indeed more - because the less you have the more space there is for joy and creativity to flow. Treasure what you use, change from disposable to reusable, and be a mindful consumer of this planet's resources.
9. Eat nourishing whole foods
Food is energy to our bodies and minds. We are what we eat. Period. So if you diet consists of pizza, ice cream and beer, you won't be feeling your best. Not saying that pizza and beer is not great sometimes, and ice cream? Hello? Happiness?! What I mean is that true lasting joy is found in a true lasting diet. One that consists of fresh fruit and vegetables, grains and all the other delicious things mother earth has given us.
10. Create consistency
Pick one thing in your life that you want to develop and focus on it for the next 1-2 months. Something small, like waking up in the morning 20 minutes earlier and drinking a glass of warm water with lemon (which by the way, is life-changing for your digestion and overall wellbeing). Or reading one chapter of a book every night before sleep. Or calling your mother every week, and staying calm, even when she blames you. Don't take something too big on board and don't do it unless you really feel and believe it is good for you. Feel free to stop it and try something else if it does not fit you. But be honest to yourself, don't stop out of laziness or fear. Achieving consistency in something creates confidence, because we realize that if we can do this, then we can also do the next thing. And then achieving the next thing, gives us more confidence to go for the next. That is how the snowball of a joyful life gets rolling.
Have a weekend full of joy,