02 Oct Joy: What’s Boxing You In?
What holds you back from experiencing more joy?
Oscar Wilde wrote, “Two men looked out through prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars.”
We all look out through our own types of prison at times, places where we feel stuck: difficulties in relationships, jobs, health, finances, etc. Sometimes, in some seasons, those prison bars are thicker and heavier than at other times. Whatever season you’re in, what are you training yourself to focus upon? Mud or stars? Your answer to that question can determine whether you are gloomy and anxious or peaceful and positive.
Joy: Notice the Good Things
So stop right now, and grab a pen and paper – or you can use your notes app on your smart phone. First, write a list of ten things you’re thankful for. After you’ve done that, write down ten more things. Now take a moment to reflect upon your lists. Is it surprising that you have so many positive things in your life? Why not begin to focus upon positive things in order to drastically improve your daily joy and contentment? Anne Frank wrote, “I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains.” If she did it, we can too!
Joy: A Retraining Process
I want to encourage us all to retrain our brains into a new habit of automatically focusing upon the positive. In doing this, we’ll experience a whole lot more joy and gratitude. Why let our brains arbitrarily decide where to put our focus and how big or small to make things? We need to take the reins of our minds, and through practice, grow in the habit of redirecting our focus and perception.
Joy: Come On a Retraining Adventure
But how do we do that? In my next few blog articles, as well as in my upcoming book, I’ll be sharing exercises and principles that will help you train your brain toward joy and positivity. I’ve used these with individuals and groups and they’ve been life-changing! To get you started, here’s one exercise I recommend for all of us to develop as a lifelong habit:
Each night, as you lay your head on your pillow, think back through your day and reflect upon three things that brought you a surge of happiness or a spark of joy; nothing is too small – from sunny weather, to complimentary words, to a friendly e-mail, to a job accomplishment, to flowers along the freeway. Reflect upon these, and savor them for a few moments. Then let this bedtime habit seep into your daytime hours as well, and you will begin to notice more and more positive things as you go through your days.
Now stay tuned — more joyful ideas are coming! I’ll let you know when my book comes out later this month – Retrain Your Brain for Joy: Thirty-One Mini-Adventures. In the meantime, keep your eyes upon those stars.