‘Tis the Season Plucky Broads!
I know, I know, the season that awaits is supposed to be rife with joy, gratitude and jolly belly laughter, but let’s be honest. For a lot of people the holidays turn into one mandatory event after another; work parties, family dinners, at least 3 Friendsgivings, secret Santa, shopping (for that perfect gift…or 700 of them), ugly sweater soiree’s, fruitcake cook offs. It’s easy to get caught up in it all until one day you realize you CAN’T wait for the holidays to be over already! What gives? This time of year is meant to be joyful but we often become downright miserable. First world problems, poundsignamirite? Let’s work on changing that this year (and keep it rolling all year), shall we? Here are some easy ways to cultivate that ever elusive joy in the weeks to come.
1) PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Like, everyday. I’m saying ‘practice’ for a reason folks. Gratitude doesn’t always come naturally, especially when your life is looking like the day after you threw a party for four that turned into a party of 90. Make it a habit anyway. I like to mutter what I’m grateful for while walking to the coffee shop in the morning. Sure, I look like a crazy person, but it starts my day off on the right foot. It’s hard to be pissed about the dishes still in the sink, or worrying about my bank account when I’m focusing on the aspects of my life that I’m truly grateful for. Gratitude allows joy to bloom. It’s the sunshine to a petunia. Do it.
2) BRING GRATITUDE TO THE DINNER TABLE
If it sounds like I’m beating a dead horse, take a hint. Gratitude is key. It changes your perspective. Start a family ritual. Every year at my family Thanksgiving some do-gooder inevitably asks us to go around and say what we’re thankful for. All of us, (except the asker) shift uncomfortably in our seats, and curse the asker under our breaths. My older brother has a terrifically honed ‘sigh of disapproval’ he employs. EVERY YEAR. Why? Because we haven’t made it a practice to share with each other what we are grateful for, and it feels vulnerable, and feeling vulnerable is the worst when you’re about to feel really good, followed by really bad, by stuffing your face full of turkey and stuff. If we made it a daily, or even a weekly, family practice, it would be second nature. Joy cultivation. Boom. Check out my post on developing an attitude for gratitude.
3) GO PLAY!
Is there something you love to do but just ‘don’t have the time’? Make time! You can do it. You need to do it. Your family will thank you and I’m betting you will thank you. Are you a movie nut? See what movies are playing and go see the one you want to see. Love being out in nature? Go do that! Breath some fresh air, skip, talk to yourself-all the
crazy cool people are doing it. Live music your thing? Find some, go see it, DANCE. Yes, exactly, like no one is watching. Haven’t picked your flute up in 20 years? Pick that flute up, girl! Whatever it is, allow yourself some unapologetic playtime. It’s not just for kids.
4) PUT ON YOUR MEDITATION CAP
I’ve been really getting into this one. Dare I say, I love it. I haven’t even had any out of body, woo-woo moments, I just love…stopping. There are some great guided meditations on YouTube, or you can just get yourself all cozy, light a candle and shut down that grey matter of yours for a spell. Okay, it’s not like there is a circuit breaker you can switch, your brain will still be all over the place, but it’s worth it. (And, it’s a practice) I like to think of meditation the same way I think of high intensity interval training. Fitness experts say, if you work out with HIIT your body continues to burn calories more efficiently and for longer than if you were to just get on the treadmill and pound out an hour of running at a steady pace. Same with meditation, the effects continue to spill over long after the meditation is over. It’s a work out for your soul. Joy can’t resist itself when meditation joins the party. They fit together like Kanye and what’s her name.
5) PAY ATTENTION TO THE GOOD THINGS
Stop, put down your phone and look around you. It’s amazing how many people are going through their lives with their eyes glued to a five inch screen (myself included). We are truly missing out on so much. There is so much goodness around us. Take a break. We are obnoxious! Try leaving that little gizmo behind every once in awhile (Eek! Keep breathing, you’ll live.) Instead, use that time to do some quality people watching. I can almost guarantee you will witness some interaction that leaves you smiling. It’s called being present, my good people. I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s why children are such great teachers for us in the pursuit of all things joyful. Presence. Enter joy stage left.
6) SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH A GOOD FRIEND
We are a species that needs connection. We need it. So, connect. Get together with a good friend and really catch up. Like, send the small talk packing and get real. (note: I’m not saying you need to get thuper therious. Just real) Simple. Elaboration unnecessary me thinks. If you can’t get together because geography has it out for you, make a phone call. I am a sucker for my friendships and joy just bursts through my ears when I connect in meaningful ways with them.
7) FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, GIVE STRESS A REST
I’m just gonna shoot straight with you here, stress is not a good look on you. So send it off to hang out with small talk. Life is too short to be all tied up in stress. You may think it’s like a rope that is coiled around you, making it impossible for you to move, but it’s really just silly string. Wipe it off. Joy is stifled under the intense stare of stress. Oil and vinegar, baby. Take some deep breaths and take one step at a time. And while you’re at, be gracious with yourself.
8) LOOK UP LAUGHTER ON PINTEREST (ALSO…LAUGH)
Seriously. Do this. If this doesn’t bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart then we need to go a lot deeper than just this one blog post. I’m not kidding, this is gold. What’s better than a picture of someone laughing? I’ll tell you. It’s a bunch of pictures of people laughing all in one magical place called Pinterest. Don’t stop there though, figure out a way to get some laughter into your day. What makes you laugh every time? Get yourself some of that. YouTube is a good place for funny videos. Try that if you’re stumped.
ENGAGE IN ACTS OF KINDNESS
Genuinely smile at a stranger. Make an effort to remember someone’s name. Pay someone a compliment. There are literally hundreds of small things you can do everyday. Sprinkle that kindness. It has a way of coming back to you. Like pollen.
Okay! That’s it. The Joy Cultivation Project can now commence. Thank you for reading all the way to the end. Now, go get yo’self some JOY pie!
What are ways you cultivate joy in your life? Let me know.