This tiny noun radiates a mighty power to change lives, yet it eludes many of us.
No, you cannot buy joy like a sparkling diamond bracelet, and a set template to create joy doesn’t exist, say life coaches and mental health experts. Plus, what sparks joy is different for everyone.
“And you don’t need to take courses and seminars or crack open books to find joy,” said Florence Doisneau, a Pensacola certified life coach and owner of Realize Unlimited, LLC. “Joy is inside you right now, and it always will be. Break away from the idea that joy is separate. Joy is innate. Either we are open to it or closed to it. Stop, and take a good look at your life.”
Tapping into joy is like a personal excavation, a “deep spiritual connection” with our core self, said Doisneau, who also teaches yoga and meditation.
“The linchpin is the relationship one has with their thinking,” she said. “When we get out of our head, let go of all the nitty-gritty everyday stuff, that’s when we have awareness, when the flood gates open and joy surfaces.”
For instance, if you love gardening, it can be joyful. But if while gardening you only ponder on things you must do such as meet a work project deadline, buy groceries, clean house, etc., you won’t experience joy, Doisneau explained.
“In essence, quiet your mind,” she said. “Become clear on what’s crossing your mind, and do not let it take you for a ride. You cannot control thoughts entering your mind, but you can control where your attention goes. Get good at putting your attention on what you want.”
This works for whatever brings you joy – enjoying a concert or art museum, hiking, spending a day at the beach, playing with your dog, indulging in chocolate, dining at a fine restaurant, volunteering and participating in community endeavors.
“Remember, whatever you choose to do, you have to be in the present,” Doisneau said. “The more you are connected to your true self, the more you are connected to your innate joyful self.
”It’s key to understanding that joy is different than happiness, said Angie Randall, a Pensacola certified professional life coach, motivational speaker and owner of Positively Persistent.
“Happiness is temporary, while joy is intrinsic, a state of mind that requires positive pathways,” Randall said. “It’s easy to get in a negative frame of mind and to create negative pathways. People get used to negative pathways, but you need to stop and check in with yourself. You need to retrain yourself with positive pathways.
”Randall said do not misunderstand –go ahead and experience anger, sadness and grief, “But do not allow yourself to live there indefinitely.”
Catherine P. Jehle is a strong proponent of mindfulness.
“It is the practice of being aware, paying attention, being present,” said Jehle, a Pensacola LCSW mental health counselor in private practice. “When you are more present and aware, mindful of your feelings, this will help you notice joy.
”Releasing judgment is essential.
“It is important to recognize how you feel without any judgment...to understand that you are not your thoughts and feelings,” Jehle added. “They are emotional experiences, and you can release them. ”Randall recommended taking steps. “Gratitude is the key to joy,” Randall said. “The first thing in the morning before your feet touch the floor, before you pick up your phone, take 30 seconds to remind yourself of something that you are grateful for. The more you do this, the more joy you will have in your life.
”Look at who is in your life, she advised.
“Keep your inner circle very small, ”Randall said. “Only allow people in who add value to your life.
”That said, human connection is a necessity for living a joyful life, Randall said.
"Get out and get involved in your community,” she said. “We are wired for human connection. When we feel connected, we feel loved and supported. Having people in our lives that add significant value to us is essential to our overall mental health.
”So, don’t wait for perfection to experience joy. It simply won’t show up.
The state-of-mind experts agreed: joy is a mindset that has nothing to do with status and materialism.