Studio 5 Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Liz Hale, helps us do just that.
How easy it is to get caught up in the process of life and we forget to embrace joy along the way! And we create a processed life instead of a pure one! (We’ve all heard about the negative effects of processed foods versus whole, pure foods, right?) We can process ourselves right through the day unless we mindfully train ourselves to do differently. None of us live forever, and none of us have forever. We need to invest our time wisely. The story of your life is a very personal one. When we compare ourselves to someone else and “see” what we do not have or who we are not, we become miserable instead of motivated. When we strive to be like someone else, our life becomes processed instead of pure. Until we take our last breath, it is never too late to find joy every day of our lives within the walls of our own unique life.
We all need to enjoy joy….there is an acronym for that:
HOW TO ENJOY JOY!
E = Express It (using all the senses)
N = Necessitate It (force yourself to look for joy every day)
J = Jump For It (literally and figuratively)
O = Optimize It (make it work for you)
Y = Yield To It (stop and make way)
Express = Behaviors Change Feelings
When you smile and laugh you tell the brain, “Look, we’re smiling….we must be happy!” Going through the emotions even when you don’t feel like it is the secret. Change your behaviors and your feelings follow. I was with my family recently celebrating my aunt’s birthday. And, suddenly someone aid, “O.K. let’s go play ‘Lightening’ on the basketball court. ” I thought, “What? We just went for a walk – isn’t that enough activity for the day?” And I’m really not that athletic, but I didn’t want to be a poor sport so I enlisted in this game that I didn’t really even understand initially. And…it was a blast! As a matter of fact, I thought about going out and buying a basketball so I could practice shooting hoops before our next round of Lightening!
Necessitate = Require More
Require more of yourself – don’t acquire more. We tend to get stuck thinking, “I’ll be happy when I lose weight; when I have my own home; when I get married; when I get divorced, etc.” Be happy now! Make that a daily requirement. Something to do to acquire true joy is to release what you don’t need. Declutter psychologically and physically. Remove what is not necessary be it old grudges or old papers that are piling up. Everyday forgive one person; yourself or someone else. Forgiveness frees our heart to swell with joy. Stop holding yourself and others hostage. Accept your human tendency to make mistakes and move forward. Instead of laying in bed at night tossing and turning over all the ways you wished you’d spoken differently, been kinder, or less judgmental, look forward to a new day and a chance to begin again.
Jump = Heart-First
Sometimes we leap with our heads. We’re methodical and calculated to avoid risks. With joy, it’s necessary to lead with your heart! That’s what children do – they jump for joy – they’re in the moment – they lead with their heart and their emotions. Physical activity certainly puts us in the moment. Hopscotch, trampolines, dancing, basketball all cause us to physically jump for joy. It’s important to inwardly jump for joy, as well; Listening to music, eating a delicious dessert, playing in the dirt, looking at the details of a tiny bug, and smelling the fresh mown grass in the neighborhood. Use all your senses to be there with your whole heart and head.
Optimize = Celebrate Little “C’s”
It’s easy to feel joy in the big-letter “C” celebrations of life: a wedding, a new baby, or a glamorous vacation. But you also say to enjoy the small-letter “c” celebrations. Not every day has a big celebration. Look for the small ones: your child says “thank you” unprompted; a butterfly lands on your child’s nose (as we saw on one of our viewers scrapbook page); a long-lost friend calls out-of-the-blue; your car passes inspection; your favorite canned tuna is on sale at the grocery store, etc. We are too accustomed to see the negative; instinctively we look out for danger, warning signs, and problems. We need to train our brains to do differently. Another word I like is savoring. Sometimes I’ll be with my family and extended family and I’ll think, “Ah..I just want to savor this – I wish I could freeze-frame this sweet moment.” When you have those moments, take it all in – again, use every sense possible to see, hear, feel, touch, and taste it so it leaves an indelible imprint on your brain.
Yield = Become UnBlind
It’s a must to experience joy every day of our lives. It must be a requirement! Joy is there, we’re just not always used to looking for it or seeing it. It’s similar to noticing how the sun peers in through the blinds of a window, and the light beam suddenly illuminates countless tiny dust particles right in front of your eyes. There is so much we don’t see if life because we are blinded by our perspectives and beliefs. Take off the blinders, slow down, notice the sunbeams and see what you can unveil that’s right there that you just hadn’t seen before. (Sometimes we don’t even open the blinds – we don’t want to see or be challenged that life really is better than we thought because we’re comfortable seeing what isn’t.)
I’ve had the please of working with people who have had near-death experiences. What a gift they are to the rest of us – they now see the wonder in the world because of their near-death experience. They have learned that world is created for our enjoyment and that there is nothing to fear. They have taught me about the importance of being kind, unblind, and of service to others.
We have to put energy and effort into something in order to expect anything back. We cannot fall in love and expect love to bring us happiness and joy from here on out. We have to give it our full effort. Determine what brings you joy and move toward it. If our belief system is “the world is out to get me,” that’s what you’ve programmed into your search engine and that’s what you’ll see. Instead, if you program the world is out to bless me, that is what you’ll see, as well!
Dr. Liz Hale is a licensed clinical psychologist and a regular contributor on Studio 5. Your comments and questions are welcomed! Please visit www.drlizhale.com to add your thoughts to today’s discussion or learn more about her private practice.