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How to Hold Onto Joy When Life Puts You Through the Wringer

There are many ways to cultivate joy; here are some things you can start doing right now to inject a wee bit of joy juice.
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Almost sounds trite to suggest it.

I've come to believe and research supports that our darkest times provide a beautiful opportunity for joy to shine through.

Don't get me wrong, maybe it's not the same kind of joy that you feel at other times, but nevertheless, deeply felt joy on those tough days can be the elixir that provides you with some much needed hope and energy to put one foot in front of the other.

The more we notice joy, the more deeply fulfilling our lives become. We desperately need this in challenging times.

It's really not up to our circumstances to give us the happiness we want; it's up to us to create it despite our circumstances.

There are many ways to cultivate joy; here are some things you can start doing right now to inject a wee bit of joy juice.

1. Get Real

Create a Parachute Plan -- think of your current challenges. Make a list of all the things that need to be dealt with that are within your control and develop an action plan should you need to use it. Reduce the stress and the popcorn popping type thoughts that can be consuming.

Create a practice that helps with what you can't control-perhaps its developing a mantra, journaling, prayer, meditation or yoga-pick what works best for you.

2. Be Courageous

Do what you can with what you have. Look for opportunities to grow as a result of your situation. Looking for the opportunities to do what you can, rather than being paralyzed by the obstacles goes a long way to build resilience AND so often on the other side of courage is joy. Take even one step in a direction, this can create the momentum you need to keep going.

3. Connect

Stay connected with your social network. Sometimes we feel like a burden so we withdraw from our friends and loved ones when we need them most-people are honored to support you -- let them do that.

Connect to creativity as well, those 'Flow' moments when you are involved in a creative moment are deeply delicious and vital to give us the energy for those tough days -in case you're thinking you're not creative, science has shown that EVERYONE is. Find a form of creativity that lights you up and invest time in it.

4. Be Generous

Altruism is called a form of wise selfishness; it gets your head out of your difficulties, helps you to be in the moment and focus on being there for someone else. It can be as simple as writing genuine text or email of appreciation to someone, or doing a random act of kindness-do 3 in one day and you'll feel the yummy effects all day long.

5. Practice Gratitude

When you have a gratitude practice, such as writing in a gratitude journal, your brain forms new neural pathways within three weeks to become more positive, increasing your overall happiness. Writing down three that went well that day and why has a huge impact on your brain and significantly increases positivity in less than a month.

When life hands you lemons, you get to decide how to sweeten your lemonade; a wee squirt of joy makes the sourest of days more palatable.