Experiencing More Joy

Recently I spoke about joy and how it’s often absent from our lives here. As elders we’re faced with physical limitations, the poor health of our loved ones and, unfortunately, our own decreased mobility. We may have fewer resources and even fewer family members and close friends to keep us buoyed in down times.

And don’t get me going on current events! Talk about joy robbing ….

The good news is that joy is a state of mind that is always available to us.

While aging can sometimes be counterintuitive to experiencing joy, there are ways seniors can acquire what’s necessary to experience joy – without cost or much effort.

In that vein here is my approach to increasing joy in my everyday life. I hope you will be open to one or more of these suggestions.

Finding Purpose

Waking up, having coffee, jumping online to check social media then watching the news and, later in the day, watching the soaps, etc., might be nice for a couple of days of vegging out but making a routine of only these activities doesn’t provide for enough stimulation to support an interested and involved and positive person that others want to be round.

Part of my purpose is to connect in a positive way with other seniors both in person and via my writings. My other purposes include being a good steward in my community, honoring my relationships, spending time in fun and educational activities, and strengthening my spiritual connections.

What is your purpose? Write it down. Let it represent your true north in the years ahead.

Practicing Happiness

There is no way for me to expand joy in my life if my M.O. is to be skeptical, grumpy, and generally negative. These days it’s easy to slip into one of these less desirable moods.

I’m glad there’s an antidote to any general malaise. I have a list of ways to practice happiness when I’m feeling a lack of joy in my life. My list includes laughing out loud, singing (usually by myself), and plugging into some comedy on TV or Netflix.

My shifting into joy out of a grumpy place always involves laughing. I cannot remain bummed, pissed off, or negative when I’m exercising my laugh muscle. Have you noticed that when you laugh hard, a part of your body you didn’t know you had aches? That ache becomes my goal in practicing happiness.

Do you have a practicing happiness list?

Change Your Attitude

It’s true, you can’t just snap your fingers and trade a negative mood for a better one. And, I can’t tell you what works best to change your attitude. For me, it has to do with classical music, my kitty, Kali, or the smell of outdoors with the sun on my face.

I go for things to change my attitude that are readily available and cost very little. If I need to escape to the movies or walk the mall for an hour to improve my mood, I’m doing it. Whatever it takes. All the better if I haven’t pigged out on popcorn at the movies or bought a new pair of – totally unnecessary – shoes!

I’m not perfect in changing my attitude. If you’ve got things that work for you, I’d love to hear them!

No Regrets Allowed!

I make it a rule when trying to experience more joy in my life to let go of the past. I’ve made some really poor choices, some that have hurt others and some I’m definitely not proud of. Focusing on them, however, does nothing but shoot me down the tunnel of regret that makes me feel much worse about myself.

Making room for a lot of regret can easily lead me into a week or two of inactivity with lots of TV watching and computer games. So, I won’t allow wallowing in regret for longer than a minute. The pep talk I give myself goes something like, “Okay, it’s done. Do you need to fix it for yourself or apologize or make amends to another? If not, then, you’ve got one minute to kick yourself for your mistake.”

In the Spirit of Full Disclosure

I have to admit I haven’t always made room in my life for joy. There have been days in my seniordom of very little activity that turned into a week of not much more than staying in and either watching TV or hanging out playing computer games or being on social media. Those days felt like when I eat only carbs and not any protein … heavy and sluggish. I didn’t push myself to seek a way out of my poor attitude or look for a friend to help me realign my desire for joy. When this happens, I ask myself if I’m just being lazy or perhaps even depressed. Depending on the answer, it’s a signal to take stock and make a change.

Living a life of joy – joy that you create and make room for – has a powerfully positive impact on your health and well-being