Finding your joy

When we are young, happiness and joy are able to spring spontaneously from inside, unencumbered by disappointment or fear, but as we get older, this spontaneity is not so easy to experience. So what happens to our youthful joy, where does it go? As we grow older, we take on responsibilities which weigh us down, guilt if we don’t perform to the standards of others and fear of failure. This squashes our joy into a place where it is hard to access, but it is still there and can bubble out suddenly when we least expect it – peeking out like the sun behind a cloud.

However for many people, happiness is an illusion, a dream that is played out in movies, magazines and novels. It estranges them from the world and from others. They are cut off from their happiness and this can manifest itself in many ways. Some become bitter and disillusioned, others feel great loneliness and longing, many feel disconnected from relationships, friends and family and all the time, advertising is flooding our lives with the “buy this and your life will be perfect” message. Do you feel like this?

It seems that the stresses and tensions of everyday life are putting these two areas under mounting pressure. More people are being diagnosed as clinically depressed and at no time has there been more need for a way back to happiness.

Here are a few ways you can start to feel happier again – things that have to be done for weeks on end until you start feeling lighter and more cheerful again. A whole book in itself can be written about each point here, but I think this is enough just to get the general idea across.

  • ·         Deal with your past stuff and let it go – is there someone you need to forgive? Forgiveness strengthens our souls and offers us freedom. When we learn to forgive ourselves and others, it is the biggest act of self love and one of the greatest gifts that we could ever give to ourselves.
  • ·         Look objectively at your present reactions to life – is there a lot of negativity there – anger or resentment? Negative feelings create a destructive charge in our souls. On a deep subconscious level these feelings block our flow of joy and happiness, they stop us moving forward into the lives we want to live, and they keep us stuck in a place where we really don’t want to be. These emotions can be destructive and painful.
  • ·         Change your mindset to accept something you didn’t think you could (or at least to be okay with it). Be  more flexible. Instead of judging and criticizing, try to understand people and to be more at peace  with the fact that we are all so different.
  • ·         Give thanks and be grateful for every single day. This begins to refocus our thoughts away from lack and towards gratitude. When our minds are full of what we don’t have, there is no space to focus on what we do have. The tough stuff builds our character; it shapes us as human beings and how we deal with it is what defines us. Change is tough – but the rewards are great!
  • ·         Change your routine – do something different. Sometimes we are just a bit stuck in a rut and making a few simple changes can help more than we know. If you feel a little flutter of anxiety while doing this that’s fine – you do it anyway! The more often you do different things, the easier it gets.
  • ·         Focus on what you do have. So often when life becomes hard and we are overwhelmed with difficulties we forget all the things that we still have – the things that are good in our life. Don’t deny your sad feelings and work through them slowly, but remember all the great things too!

These things may seem very simple, but the strength lies in the doing of it, in “taking action”. Nothing will change unless you actually DO IT!

So make some changes starting this week – keep a journal and share each step with someone else. Share what you are learning and encourage that person to pass it on as well.

I’d like to end off with one of my favourite sayings:

“Happiness cannot be travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every moment with love, grace and gratitude.”

Barbara Shepherd, Life Coach

For Barbara’s details see: