Monthly Mantra: Joy
Typically, when we think about ways to improve our lives, we start by problem solving. We determine what our weaknesses are, where we might have gone wrong, and the consequences we're currently experiencing as a result. We think to ourselves, 'Now, I just need to stop doing (insert negative behavior), so I don't experience (insert negative outcome).' I don't know about you, but even reading those sentences makes me feel slightly panicked and frustrated. Wanting to avoid cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, undesirable weight gain, and other negative health implications are all valid reasons for making healthy decisions. However, focusing on the negative, while a very natural response, may not be the most effective type of motivation in the long run. What if the best way to make long-lasting, positive lifestyle changes is to focus on doing more things that add joy to our lives, rather than cutting out the negative?
During my one-on-one coaching sessions, all of my clients share one major underlying reason for wanting to make a lifestyle change: to improve their overall life satisfaction. We want more joy in our lives. In fact, the more joyful we are, the more likely we are to succeed at our goals. Success builds our level of self-efficacy and allows us to continue making healthy choices that come from a place of self-love and respect, rather than from self-hate or fear. That's a major win-win in my opinion!
Taking care of our physical selves by moving more, eating nutritious foods, and getting plenty of rest is a key contributor to living a healthy and happy life. And isn't that really the big picture of it all, a happy life?
Last week, I had the opportunity to hear Petra Kolber speak on the topic of happiness. In her discussion she said, "The longest journey we will ever make is from our heads to our hearts." In order for us to have more joy and cultivate a state of happiness in our own lives, we have to intentionally change our mentalities.
Higher quality thoughts lead to a higher quality of life.
So how can we cultivate more joy into our lives so that we live a life full of purpose and satisfaction? Below are 4 suggestions of ways I'll be practicing a joyful mindset in the month of April. I'd love for you to join me!
- Write out 5 things that bring you joy, and then go do one of those things (I know, earth shattering). For me, I love hiking with Luna, trying new recipes from one of my favorite cook books, sharing a meal with family and friends, taking pictures with my camera, working out with my Eric, and reading a good book (currently in the middle of Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. I highly recommend it!).
- Remember a time in which you accomplished something that made you proud. Write out what you did, what strengths you used to persevere, and how it made you feel. We can learn a lot of positive things about ourselves when we draw from our past successes. This is one of my favorite things to do when I'm feeling stuck and am not exactly sure how to move forward!
- Start a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write down 3-5 things you’re thankful for. Maybe you had a wonderful experience with a friend that day or a coworker really helped you out with something. It doesn’t always have to be monumental, it may simply be the fact that you’re about to crawl into a cozy bed after an exhausting day. Expressing gratitude is a wonderful way to improve our state of mind, and has even been shown to decrease the stress hormone, cortisol!
- Do something kind for someone. Buy someone's coffee, pick up the kitchen without having to be asked, or simply just make eye contact and smile at someone! Studies show that when we are kind or generous to someone else, it actually increases our own levels of happiness!
There are so many ways we can incorporate positive thoughts and behaviors into our lives if we are intentional about doing so!
Let's begin! What brings you joy?