Generating joy when life has us down

by / Comments Off on Generating joy when life has us down / 126 View / March 16, 2014

Mark Twain once quipped, “Everyone complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

The brutal winter of 2014 is almost over — just three more days until spring! While everyone struggled through the bitterly cold days, some people were able to find ways to warm their hearts and souls. They were able to beat the winter blues by finding activities that made them happy.

Here are some great ideas we can take away from this winter about how to generate joy when external circumstances seem to be conspiring against us:

Check in on friends and family. Call the people you care about to see how they’re doing. Perhaps they need an empathetic ear to listen to them, or maybe they’re secretly hoping someone will offer to help them.

Have dinner with friends. Invite a fun couple over for dinner. It’s easier to laugh and let loose when you’re in a private setting. Your friends will be delighted and deeply appreciative of your efforts. You’ll be happy you did something nice for someone you like.

Express your love to your family. Create loving moments. Play a game with your kids in which the goal is laughing, not winning. Take your children to see their grandparents. Write notes to each of your loved ones that expresses why you feel blessed to have them in your life. It will be a love letter they’ll treasure their whole life.

Listen to music. Take the time to really tune into the rhythm or the words. The idea is to have your soul absorbing the sounds and your body moving with the melody of the music.

Remember who you have helped. Recall the people whose lives you touched in a meaningful way. Remember how good it felt to befriend an aging neighbor, or a child who needed some extra attention. Reminiscence about how much it meant to your friend when you were there for them through their illness. Touch bases to see how they’re doing now.

Pray or meditate. Find a quiet place to get in touch with yourself and the higher power. Spend a few minutes focusing on the question, “What’s important for me to be doing with my life right now?” Get in touch with your purpose, and figure out what the first step will be in moving yourself toward that positive outcome.

Take a bath or a shower. Instead of rushing through the experience, slow down and enjoy the warm water as it relaxes your body. Pay attention to where you’re holding tension in your body, and slowly stretch those muscles until they let go of the stress.

Play with a pet. Animals have an advantage over humans because they’re capable of giving unconditional love. You’ll have fun engaging in the mindless play of tossing a ball to your dog or tantalizing your cat with an interesting toy.

Lose your mind and come to your senses. If your head is swimming in thoughts of problems at work or at home, you can shift your mood by engaging in sensory-based activities. Think about what smells you like, and then light a candle or cook something that has wonderful aromas. Make a fire and spend time looking at the light of the flame as it dances and flickers, pops and crackles.

Take a drive. Jump in the car and go for an adventure. You may have a pleasant destination in mind where you know you’ll find a beautiful view, or you can just discover what’s in store for you as you travel the back roads. Stop at the small family restaurant that you’ll surely find. Savor the food and strike up a conversation with local residents at the next table. You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn.

Make love. Go beyond having sex and take the time to talk, touch, tantalize and tease. Sex lasts seven minutes. Making love takes at least 45 minutes. What would you want to happen during that additional 38 minutes? Tell your partner, and ask them what they’d find satisfying.

Have a gratitude party. Invite all of your friends to a potluck dinner. Pass out pencils and 3×5 cards before the meal. Ask everyone to write a list of things that they are grateful for having in their life. Have them put their name on the card and place them all in a big bowl. After dinner, pass the bowl around and have people read someone else’s gratitude list aloud — accompanied by cheers and applause from all in attendance.