There are many things that cloud, cover, disrupt or steal your joy, but only if you let them. Our joy is a gift we are all born with -- it's there if we choose to develop it and focus on it.
It's also quite simple to rediscover that joy -- it just takes a little practice to develop new habits. Here are five key areas in your life that could be preventing you from finding joy and some solutions that might help you find it.
1. The Story You Tell Yourself
What you tell yourself about yourself, others and everything that happens to you will determine how you feel. Period. Only you are in charge of how you feel. And those feelings generally come from what you are saying to yourself.
Take a little time today, this week or this month to become aware of the stories you tell yourself about yourself. You are worth loving. You are good enough. You can make yourself safe. You are not alone or abandoned -- there is always someone there to help or guide or support -- just look for them.
What stories do you tell yourself about your job? Circumstances? Partner? Children? Boss? Colleagues?
Are they positive and kind stories? If not, change them. They are fairy stories anyway, so make up a new one that you can base the rest of your life on. Change your story -- change your life!
We are living lives of habits and patterns ruled unconsciously by fear. Note: unconsciously. Today is the day to start observing how fear can dominate your self talk -- and therefore behaviors. Watch out for these fears that may be blocking your ability to be happy:
Fear of what others think. Chances are that other people are not thinking about you at all. They are too busy thinking about themselves to worry about you! Go ahead and feel free to be yourself.
Fear of missing out. You are not missing out! What you imagine others have and what they actually have are usually very different. Accept with grace all that you have.
Fear of not being good enough. You are you and if you have judged yourself as not being good enough -- whose expectations are you trying to meet? If you feel you need to improve, do it with joy and enthusiasm and appreciate your gifts. We all have unique gifts -- our work is to find them and develop them.
Fear of not being lovable. You are lovable. Warts and all. Everyone is lovable -- don't let your perceptions of what someone said or did ruin your life. You are worth loving. Surround yourself with people who know how lovable you are.
There are many more fears that could be stopping you from finding joy, but I have just highlighted a few key ones. Fear is not often useful. Identify your fears and challenge them -- they hide the true joy that is already inside you.
3. Your Health
Check your health for the next month. Do you wake up refreshed? Do you have loads of energy? Do you laugh a lot? Do you eat healthy foods and exercise?
If you know you need to change your lifestyle and exercise more, or eat a different diet, or lose weight, or take more time for yourself, or meditate, or relax more, then do it! Take small steps in that direction and celebrate each small change -- the brain loves celebration!
Celebrating small changes ties into the small bang theory of joy. Each little positive change or movement in the right direction can be used as a motivator if you choose to celebrate those changes - it doesn't matter if your whole life has not changed in one "big bang!" It's the consistent small changes that bring the outcome you desire.
4. Spirit Foofers
Do you spend your days with positive, kind people or those who blame, judge, criticize and are driven by fear? Have you ever woken up full of energy and vitality and encountered someone who left you feeling drained and hollow or hopeless?
I call these people energy suckers or spirit foofers. You want to avoid them at all cost! Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, enthusiastic people. I call these people Spirit Igniters.
Examine your daily activities and ensure that from today, you consciously seek people and things that ignite your Spirit, fill you with energy and enthusiasm and are in some way fulfilling. Hint: serving others in some way, e.g., volunteering, is often a great way to ignite your own spirit, expand your joy -- and put your difficulties into perspective.
5. What You Focus On
Are you a "good finder" or someone who unconsciously -- or consciously -- sees the downside of every situation. Do you pride yourself as a skeptic or cynic who won't let anyone "pull the wool over your eyes"?
How you view the world is a choice. If you have been unconsciously focusing on the negative, consider this blog post as bringing it to your attention. From today onwards, you will be consciously choosing to:
a) Be a good finder -- to look for the good or some good in everything that happens and every person you meet. Actively find something good. Tell yourself what our Qi gong master taught us: "Every day is a good day. Every place is a good place. Every person is a good person. Every thing is a good thing." Tell yourself that until it becomes a reality in your life.
b) Focus on what is wrong with everything and everyone.
Listen to yourself all day today -- are you an uplifting, inspiring, positive person to be around? Or you point out what is wrong with everything? Are blaming, judging and criticizing your default patterns? Do you focus on people's weaknesses? If this is you -- STOP IT!
I believe that the more you focus on what is good and right in life and celebrate what is right, the more joy you will have and the more joy you will elicit in others.
So there you have it -- five things that can steal your joy and lots of ideas of how to retrieve it!
Amanda Gore (www.amandagore.com) is an author, award-winning motivational speaker and joy facilitator! Her philosophy is that Joy is an Inside Job. Finding joy is the secret to more productive, creative, successful and happy humans -- at work and home. Amanda is also the director of The Joy Project. To book Amanda for your event click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with Amanda on Facebook - Amanda Gore - Speaker page and The Joy Project page