Have you ever questioned "where is my joy?" I believe we all have at some point. At times our joy can feel overshadowed by every day challenges, emotions, and experiences. Yet even then, joy can still be felt. There is space for all of it. During my own experiences of challenging times and heartbreak, I also experienced joy. Whether that may be a walk in nature, time with my dog or a good friend.
If you are needing some ideas to get started, here are a few suggestions for you to experience joy in your own life. You may also want to create your own list or add to this one:
1) Make yourself a priority. You deserve your own time and attention. There are 1440 minutes in a day; make yourself a priority and use some of those minutes for you. Whether that is getting in a yoga class, running a bubble bath, or reading a book. Do what makes your heart sing.
2) Try something new. Maybe it is a new coffee flavor or a new meal? Or an art museum or a new sport? Trying something new adds a little adventure into every day life. Sometimes that may feel a little scary at first. However on the other side of fear, you may discover complete JOY!
3) Move your body. Movement can wake us up and provide a boost of energy when we are feeling lethargic. Maybe that is going for a walk, having a dance party in the kitchen to your favorite music, doing some yoga or stretching. Make it fun for yourself. When we start moving and boost our energy, it's an opening to feel joy.
4) Affirm yourself. How many times have you started a sentence with, “I am ... ?” What comes after the "I am" is super important. A suggestion is to write down: “I AM... Strong. Worthy. Beautiful. Loving. ” or any other statements that resonate. Every morning, read them to yourself or out loud. In 30 days you may notice a big shift in how you are feeling.
5) Go into nature. Research shows that being outdoors for only 5 minutes a day can improve your mood, raise your self-esteem, and reduce trauma symptoms. Go outside. Touch the earth. Breathe in the smells. Notice the sounds you hear. Notice what's around you. Connect with the beauty that surrounds you.
6) Nurture Relationships. That may be calling a friend, meeting someone you care about for lunch or coffee. Share what's going on in your life and connect. Laugh out loud, as laugher is so therapeutic. Let yourself be silly too. It's ok to be an adult and play too!
7) Invest in you. Joy comes from within - no doubt. And the greatest way to create more joy is through healing, growth, and exploration of self. Feed your soul by reading a good book, take that class you are interested in, go on that adventure you seek. The more joy we create from within, the more joy we create in our life.
Feel free to share below ways you experience joy in your life, I would love to hear it you
The good news is that your fate isn’t set. You get to decide how you want your day to go and to live purposefully.
It’s actually far more exhausting to not work than it is to work. It takes far more energy sitting with internal conflict and justification than it does to just get to work. Said Steven Pressfield, “Most of us have two lives: the life we live and the un-lived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.”
If your life feels out-of-balance, you’re likely avoiding the very thing you should be doing. Avoidance leads to distraction.
When I'm in flow at work or in my life, I feel more joy and vibrant. The world is a more beautiful and abundant place. I leave my work more energized than before I started. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my life. Others feel that energy from too.
Conversely, on days I’ve spent my working time in distraction, I don't feel as great and have low energy. You can’t see the energy-field around you, but it’s there.
You Can Make the Shift. I know what it feels like being stuck and without momentum.You can feel absolutely powerless to change your life and circumstances. But that’s not true. Feeling guilty about all the time you’ve wasted won’t help.
If you make a few tweaks to your approach, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your perception of the world and yourself will change. As your perception changes, everything around you will change.
Give one or two of these a try and watch what happens:
1. Have a weekly reflection and planning session
One day per week, take 10–30 minutes reflecting on your past six days. How did they go? What did you do or not do?
Getting down on yourself isn’t the purpose. Rather, being aware of how you’re doing is the purpose. Awareness facilitates empowerment to change. This need not take long, but it can dramatically improve the quality of your weeks and the days within those weeks.
2. At the end of each day, make your game plan for tomorrow
Having a plan eliminates the burden of choice. If you wake up without a plan, you will bounce from thing-to-thing without really doing anything. You won’t be focused or purposeful. It’s so much more powerful to wake up with a purpose and a clear reason to get up.
Taking just a minute or two at the end of your day to make a game plan for the next day will provide you the needed structure to purposefully move. Taking just 5 minutes to plan can save you hours.
3. Focus on today, not tomorrow
During your day, don’t worry about anything else. Follow your plan. Live today to the fullest and be the person you intend to be. After your day is complete, take a minute or two to outline your next day. Be mindful of distractions such as social media.
4. Three month energy cycles
When it comes to your future, you can break it down by your future vision/goals and your actual goals (present game plan) over the next 90 days. Framing your goals in three month increments gives you a clear plan to move toward. Of course, these goals are based on your longer-term goals. However, your 3-month goal cycles are your main focus. Just like your weekly planning sessions, every three months spend some time reflecting on your previous three months. Make any adjustments you need and make better plans for the next three months.
5. Organize yourself
Organize yourself. Clean out the weeds. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. The very act of cultivating your garden will enliven you. Every day, week, and year, you can make your garden a little more beautiful and fruitful. Clean up your finances. Clean up how you use your time. Clean up your relationships. Cultivate. Just a little bit every day. Once you start to get things organized, your soil of your life will be better suited for what you plant in it.
6. Build momentum
Perfection is not the goal. However, consistently making forward moving choices is the only way to get momentum. And momentum is exactly what you need. Consistency can build confidence and momentum.
So as you can see, setting yourself up for living on purpose isn’t all that hard. It may be as simple as spending 2 minutes the night before writing a plan. It may also be spending 15 minutes the Sunday before making a plan.
Whatever it is, you have a reason to live your life to the fullest. You may not know exactly what that reason is, but you’ll find it once you get moving. More than likely, you’ll realize that everything in your life is actually far more beautiful that you could previously perceive.
From this level of joy and purpose, you’ll be empowered to consciously create a future you are worthy of.
As a Therapist and a Life/Career Coach I often talk about the importance of self-care. I notice in media that it can be characterized as an indulgence. This means both that the practice of self-care is something we are occasionally allowed to indulge in and that self-care should feel like an indulgence. Think expensive bath products, luxurious chocolates, spa appointments. We may be missing the mark for what is healthy for mind or body. There is nothing wrong with those things, however self-care is a bit more expansive.
Self-care is not an indulgence, it’s an essential life requirement. It can take discipline, a deep and personal understanding of your priorities a commitment to self, and a respect for both yourself and the people you choose to spend your life with.
A few examples of self care for me:
Self-care isn’t super sexy! Which is why self-care is a discipline. It takes discipline to do the things that are good for us instead of what feels good in the moment. It takes even more discipline to refuse to take responsibility for other people’s emotional well-being. And it takes discipline to take full responsibility for our own well-being.
Self-care is also not something you do once in awhile when the world gets crazy. It’s what you do every day, every week, month in and month out. It’s taking care of yourself in a way that doesn’t require you to indulge in order to restore balance. It’s making the commitment to stay healthy and balanced as a regular practice.
Ironically when you truly care for yourself, you are actually in a much stronger place to give of yourself to those around you. You will be a happier parent, a more grateful spouse, a fully engaged colleague. Those who take care of themselves also have the energy to work with meaning and purpose toward a worthy goal. Which means they are also the people most likely to make the world a better place for all of us.
Fall and winter bring cooler, darker nights and mornings. Along with the temperature and light change, we are about to change the clocks again and cooler temps will arrive. Consider the physical, emotional, and relational ways you may be affected by this transition.
The impact of light and temperature on the human body is profound. We all need some level of light and warmth for our bodies to survive and thrive. Autumn, for some parts of the world, marks a change in both light and warmth as we approach colder and darker days.
Many people struggle with seasonal affective mood issues, commonly referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD)—a depression related to the change in seasons. For most, this begins in fall and continues through the winter months. It’s marked by moodiness, low energy, difficulty sleeping, a lack of interest in activities and relationships, feeling hopeless, and an overall sense of depression. Known more casually as “the winter blues,” SAD can have a significant impact on your mood and relationships. If you are more irritable, withdrawn, or moody during the winter months, the time to plan and prepare is now.
Our days have been getting shorter since June, but the hour change of sunlight makes it feel as though it happened in one night. Next thing we know, it’s dark after work!
Why do we get down in the winter? Less sunlight affects your circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock that governs certain brain wave activity and hormone production. This shift can change mood-related chemicals in a way that can cause depression.
Here are a few tips to protect your mental health during the shorter days of fall and winter.
1. Get outdoors & absorb real sunlight
If you can manage to sneak away for even 10 or 15 minutes at lunchtime to get outside and soak in as many rays as possible, you’ll get a decent-enough sunshine fix. Or put on your coat and gloves and brave the cold during the weekend for a nice long walk at noon. I run all year round, even if I have to wear several layers! Getting outdoors in fresh air can feel good, even if only for short spurts.
2. Take a Vitamin D Supplement
Consider taking a vitamin D supplement during the winter months. Many diseases are correlated with low vitamin D levels, especially depression. Even if you’re not feeling low, I would have your levels checked, which your primary care physician can do. The National Institutes of Health's recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 IUs a day. But Mercola suggests that adults take as much as 5,000 IUs per day. Your doctor can help you determine the best amount of vitamin D to take, if you need it.
3. Get some exercise
Although we've known for decades that exercise can decrease depression symptoms, exercise can increase the levels of the neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA, both of which are depleted in the brains of people with depression and anxiety. If there were a drug that could do for human health everything that exercise can, it would likely be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever developed.
4. Consider using a light box
Light boxes are the typical light system used for SAD in clinical studies. They're flat screens that produce full-spectrum fluorescent light, usually at an intensity of 10,000 lux(lux is the measure of visible light). It’s important to position a light box according to the manufacturer’s instructions and use it at the same time each day, typically for 30 to 60 minutes. Most people get the best results when they use a light box before 10 a.m.
5. Connect with friends and loved ones
Winter can be a time of hibernation for many, especially with the cold and darkness. While rest and slowing down is important, be aware if you are feeling lonely and isolated which can lead to depression. Snuggling under the blankets with a cup of cocoa/tea/coffee is wonderful, so can connecting with your favorite people and having some laughs.
6. Engage in a few of your favorite hobbies or discover new ones
Most of my hobbies are outdoor adventure types, and luckily I live in a climate that I can get outdoors all year round. However, I am indoors more of the time in the winter to warm up. I may go to yoga, read books, spend time in warm coffee shops or write a little more. Sometimes I will take my dog to Lowe’s Home Improvement(it’s pet friendly) to walk around and do training when’s it’s freezing or raining!
7. Listen to music
In a 2016 study, researchers showed that listening to upbeat or cheery music significantly improved participant’s mood in both the short and long term. I must agree that music can be mood lifting, and so can dancing in the kitchen!
8. Essential Oils
I love the smell of good quality essential oils! Oils with citrus and orange can be uplifting when mood is feeling low and you need more energy. Our olfactory system is very powerful, I dab a few drops on my wrists and chest or use a diffuser.
With all this said, if you are struggling, reach out for support from a qualified, licensed therapist or see your doctor. Being able to to catch it in the beginning can be helpful with getting back on track to feeling like yourself again.
Life is a delicate balance of holding on and letting go.
We are afraid to let go for different reasons and what we need to let go of can be different for all of us.
Maybe it is the ending of a relationship or perhaps a job or certain career path. Even though we know what we need to do, it doesn’t make it any less challenging. For some, maybe it’s things. For some who grew up in poverty and fear of lack can compel them to collect and hoard. Perhaps it is a certain mindset or belief system that we are holding onto and struggling to let go of.
Personally speaking, sometimes if I am afraid to let go it was because of not knowing of what’s next and having to trust that there is yet more goodness and beauty to come my way. But I know I must let go of what was to make space for what will be.
Sometimes what I’m really letting go of is the representation of a beautiful season of life. Perhaps a dream I had which can bring unexpected grief mixed with hope. Fear tells me it will never again be as sweet as this. Even though I know deep down that it will be sweet again. Though I have all the feels, I can let go of what was to make space for what will be.
I am learning to coexist with discomfort and take action anyway so I can do the work to which I am called in this new season. I challenge fear with truth and let go of who I was to make space for who I choose to be.
Each day I can remind myself to take a breath and trust the journey. Instead of stepping into each day with a rigid agenda, I show up with curiosity.
I can loosen my grip on what I think should be to make space for possibilities and joy.
Doing the work of discovering what it is that draws us to to hold on tight is the first step to letting go. It is in this messy, uncomfortable place that we begin to untangle the roots of fear and find our way to freedom.
It is here that I identify my own compelling reason to let go of what was to make space for what will be. The path to true growth is through.
We can craft a life that is rich with purpose. A life with room to breathe so that we are freed up to share our voice and gifts. This is the way to freedom. Once we’ve done the inner work, we let go of what was to make space for what will be.
Comparison is the thief of joy~ Theodore Roosevelt
The tendency to compare ourselves to others is as human as any other emotion. If you find that you are comparing yourself to others, you are not alone. Comparison to others can hinder our self-confidence and can impact the joy in our lives.
There is an infinite number of categories upon which we can compare ourselves and an almost infinite number of people to compare ourselves to. Once we begin down that road, we never find an end.
As a business owner I’ve found myself comparing myself to others or looking outside of myself for inspiration to how to do it. Or I have questioned how I should be, do or not do. I finally had to stop. It was taking me further from who I truly am, who I want to be and the gifts I have to share with the world.
Here’s the thing, comparison is often unfair. We compare ourself to people’s greatest success or their “highlight real” on social media. You are too unique to compare fairly. Your gifts, successes, contributions and value are entirely unique to you and your purpose in this world. They can never be properly compared to anyone else.
Comparison puts focus on others. You can change one life—yours. But when we constantly compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other people’s lives rather than our own. We are looking externally for the answers instead of inside and finding our own.
So, what to do if you find yourself in the comparison cycle:
1) Get quiet and listen to your own inner guidance. It’s there ready to be heard. Allow yourself time everyday to get quiet, tune in without the distractions and listen. This could be meditation, spending time in nature, journaling, etc.
2) Unfollow the people/peers that you find yourself comparing to. Take a break and choose yourself. Take a pause from social media scrolling or focus on the things that light you up.
3) Remind yourself of your own successes. You have a unique perspective, unique experiences and gifts. You have the capacity to love, serve, and contribute. You have everything you need to accomplish good in your section of the world. Become aware of your successes and use this motivation to pursue more of what you want.
4) Compare with yourself. We can strive to be the best possible versions of ourselves—not only for our own selves, but for the benefit and contribution we can offer to others. Work hard to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Commit to growing a little bit each day. Learn to celebrate the little advancements you are making without comparing them to others.
5) Remind yourself nobody is perfect. While focusing on the negatives is rarely as helpful as focusing on the positives, there is important space to be found remembering that nobody is perfect and nobody is living a painless life. Triumph requires an obstacle to be overcome. And everybody is suffering through their own, whether you are close enough to know it or not.
6) Find inspiration without comparison. Comparing our lives with others can bring us down, but finding inspiration and learning from others is entirely wise. Humbly ask questions of the people you admire or read biographies as inspiration. But if comparison is a consistent tendency in your life, notice which attitudes prompt positive change and which result in negative influence.
7) Pursue the greater things in life. Some of the greatest treasures in this world are hidden from sight: love, humility, empathy, selflessness, generosity. Among these higher pursuits, there is no measurement. Desire them above everything else and remove yourself entirely from society’s definition of success.
There is so much freedom found in comparing less is entirely worth the effort. You get to determine what it means to be successful for you and chances are it will look different than someone else’s success.
It can be incredibly easy to get caught up in comparison, especially with social media. I see many posts people sharing they are living their best life and doing amazing things with beautiful photos. I've shared mine too. These things are awesome, however sometimes we don’t also see the full story. We compare to the highlight real and can begin to question and doubt ourself.
I definitely remember a time in my life of not believing in myself and remnants of that can still creep up if I am not aware. What I have learned, is that I do not have to bend and twist myself to fit an arbitrary mold. I do not have to be smarter or prettier, less sensitive or more capable than I already am.
I am gifted and I matter, and so do you. We all have our unique gifts and talents.
We celebrate the people doing extraordinary things– changing the world in big ways (and rightly so!). We put people on pedestals and hold them up as examples of what might be. As a result, some of us live with intense shame that we will never measure up and maybe we don’t even want to!
Self-awareness can create self-compassion and it finally occurred to me that I could choose to embrace myself as enough. I could shake off the shackles of comparison, shame, and perfectionism and refuse to hold myself up to an impossible standard. I decided in all of my imperfections I am enough.
Still, it’s a daily, conscious choice to love all my beautiful and cracked bits. To do the work to heal, to not get caught up in the comparison game, to let go of feeling the need to be “perfect” and being all together, all the time. So freeing.
Deciding I am enough makes space for me to do step out and offer my gifts so that I can do the work I feel called to. Deciding I am enough allows me to show up with curiosity and joy and step fully present into my imperfect and beautiful life.
Finally deciding I am good enough means instead of hiding, I take personal responsibility and use my words and life to help build the world I want to live in. I can impact the world in my own way with my own gifts.
Because millions of ordinary people intent on building and creating, small step by small step, will undoubtedly change and impact the world.
When I feel fear or the unworthiness or stories of not being good enough surface again – I remind myself that I am rooted in the truth that I do not have to pay rent for the space I take up in this world. I have nothing to prove.
And what happens is that this freedom to just be me permits me to freely give. This freedom creates space for joyful possibility. This freedom makes me determined to reach out my hand and lift up as many other weary people as I am able and make a safe space for them to realize they deserve to be here too.
I use my gifts to impact the world. I want you to use your gifts too.
If we struggle or fall, if people don’t like what we offer, if sometimes we run right back to hide out under the covers for a little while, this does not disqualify us from life. If we take two steps forward and another one back, and we cannot always see how we make any difference at all, still we offer up our voices or ask for help…. but we do not quit.
Maybe it is in being real and imperfect and showing up anyways that we offer hope and encouragement to each other and this is, perhaps, one of the most extravagant gifts of all.
What will you do with your one wild and precious life? ~ Mary Oliver
We have one life, how would you like to live yours? If you truly want something you must show up and take action. Step by step. This is key to crafting the life you want.
Keep showing up. Keep going. Do all or something. Take imperfect action. Ask for support. Learn to sit with discomfort. Take two steps forward, one step back. Do it scared and aware there is much you don’t know. Pick yourself up should you fall. Stay out of comparison. But keep showing up.
There are no magic pills, no collect $200 and advance to go, no bypassing the fact that if we say we want something – a good relationship, a thriving business, a healthy body, a decluttered home – we must show up and do the work.
This is the key to crafting the life you want. Getting clear on who and how we want to be, how we choose to spend our time, talents, and resources, requires some work.
Building anything of value requires deliberate action and likely some stress. Moving against status quo or staying focused on your top values and priorities, involves effort.
Talking about your vision is not the same as doing the work. Dreaming and filling in goal work worksheets or listening to podcasts – delightful and often useful but not the same as actually getting your hands messy.
There is no need for perfection and you don’t have to race. You don’t need to impress anyone else or make them approve. This is about you and what you want. One step at a time, build intentionally.
I’ve learned to just show up. I’ve taught myself to offer myself lots of compassion(still a process), take days off as needed, but not to stay stuck. I’ve learned that I’m not a failure if I struggle and I don’t have to look like or do life like anyone else. I don’t need to be perfect. My path is uniquely mine.
I know that I am strong and resilient. I learned this by taking one one step after another. Sometimes falling on my face.
We all meet with resistance. We have a tendency to self-sabotage. You may struggle with people-pleasing or trying to look good for others or trying to do all the things. Whatever your personality, you are offered the choice to show up, get honest about what you want out of life, and do the work to craft the life you want.
You can go slow, make a giant leap, you can fall off course, you can be messy and imperfect.
You can make mistakes, change your mind, and walk through difficult seasons. Keep showing up. One small step and then another.
Spend more time creating instead of watching what others are up to. Be you. Stop comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle.
Ditch the all or nothing lie that holds you back and keeps you stuck. It doesn’t mean it’s easy. It means it’s worthwhile. It may get easier in time.
Practice. Work at your craft or pick away at your dreams.
When you grow tired, learn to rest and not quit. Break down your goal into bite-size steps. When it feels really hard, just breathe. I don’t have a perfect life or body or business and I don’t need perfect. What I need and want is to live on purpose. My life is a work of art created intentionally. Sometimes it feels messy.
I’m cheering you onward as you craft the life you want. Reach out if you need support on crafting your life.
Photo: Grazalema National Park, Spain
There’s a world of difference between seeking growth from a place of feeling broken or messed up vs. stepping into growth from the perspective that you’re imperfect and you’re OK... and badass.
What if you approach growth or a desire to find deeper healing or freedom from the perspective that you are already enough? That wanting to learn and grow and become more fully yourself is great – but not a prerequisite for being enough. You are already enough.
What if you show up curious each day, open to learning and self-discovery but not berating yourself for being exactly who or where you are right now. You’re not wrong for where you’re at on the journey. And even if you never budged from this spot, you’re actually OK.
What if you decide to own your past and your pain but break off the shame attached to these stories. And you choose to be proud of yourself for fighting and not giving up. For choosing life.
What would change if you stopped living for external validation, affirmation, and you became your own best friend?
Could you reach out for help when you need it and realize that you’re brave; it takes incredible strength to ask for what you need.
What if you made the decision to trust the journey. To trust that we all struggle but if we just keep taking one stubborn step after another then chances are we will find ourselves one day in a broad place, a freer space, and realize that we have indeed grown and healed. Sometimes the change we seek comes when we’re not looking.
What if you only spoke to yourself with the same care and delight that you would offer to someone you loved? What if you believed in yourself the way you’d fiercely stand up for your bestie?
And how would it feel to forgive yourself quickly, and forgive others too; to stop all the comparing and just be the perfectly imperfect you.
I wonder what might happen if you made the decision to just love the body you’re in; if you nourished yourself with kindness and all sorts of good things.
You are colorful, beautiful artwork and we’re not meant to be the same.
Have you ever found yourself wanting to do something outside of your comfort zone, then quickly talk yourself out of it? Whether that be to start your dream business, make a career move, or ask that person on a date. Self-doubt gets in the way and we can freeze. Our inner critic can tell us that we are not good enough. When bombarded by elements that can lower our self-belief, we can take charge of building up our confidence and resiliency muscles… to live the life you want and be the awesome person you are.
This topic comes up quite frequently with my clients, and I have had my share of my inner critic speaking up when going out of comfort zone. Below I will share some tips to build your muscles in this area.
1. Feeling the range of emotions you have without judgement. The pleasant and not so pleasant. You are a human and have a full range of emotions and feelings. Sometimes it is uncomfortable! We can feel a full range from anger, frustration to joy and love. Allow your self to feel them, but they don’t have to derail you from the things you want to do. By allowing yourself to be with and still take steps forward, it builds resiliency, emotional strength and confidence in yourself to manage challenging emotions.
2. Speaking up and being heard. This may be sharing your thoughts, asking for what you need or want and self-expression. While we can be mindful and intentional in our speaking, it’s allowing yourself to speak up and be heard versus hiding and playing small because you are fearful of using your voice.
3. Taking Action. Take small steps forward towards your vision and goals in your life, even when you feel scared. Each step you can take can build confidence in yourself. Celebrate the steps you are taking to go forward!
4. Ending Self criticism and beat-up. This is one is so important! We can be our worst critic and be so critical about ourself in our minds. It can be an endless cycle that can be stopped. When we are in the self beat up cycle, it can be a hindrance to our self-confidence. Notice when you are in the self critical loop, acknowledge it, have compassion for yourself and practicing letting it go and choosing thoughts that would better serve you.
5. Accept Compliments. As anyone ever gave you a compliment, and you found yourself not being able to take it in and hear it? Compliments are a mirror of who you are and the great qualities people see in you. Practicing receiving and allowing compliments, they are a reflection of you are!
6. Allow yourself see your positive qualities and achievements: Maybe that’s reminding yourself of accomplishments you have already had and the things you are good at. Maybe you have a great smile, or you nailed that work project. Allow yourself to acknowledge your positive qualities and achievements, no matter how large or small. Do this often!
7. Spending time outdoors. Spending time outdoors in nature can a be a big confidence and resilience booster. For one, it allows you to connect with yourself. When you are on a trek, long walk, or climbing a mountain(big or small), when you get to the top, it can be an amazing feeling and the knowledge you can do it.
Life and Leadership Coach, Licensed Counselor, outdoor enthusiast, yoga lover and passionate about wellness.