Do you wonder how much closer you would be to achieving your goals if you had more joy? These positive feelings could stem from when you come home and see your pet running to greet you, or it could be the sensation of waking up and knowing you have zero responsibilities for the day.
Whatever joy means to you, this feeling can be harnessed in surprisingly simple ways, even during difficult times when it can be hard to remember what being happy feels like. So, here are 19 tips for finding joy in life during difficult times that can be incorporated into your daily life.
1. Stay in the Present
When we are overwhelmed or feeling sadness and loss, the secret to finding joy is in taking life one day at a time. Difficult periods can seem more manageable when we don’t overwhelm ourselves by worry about the future and all of the unknowns.
Practice focusing on small moments in the present that spark some joy, whether that means playing your favorite song on repeat, planting new flowers in the garden, doing yoga, or seeing a good friend. When we take time each day and do something fulfilling, big or small, finding joy becomes more natural.
2. Indulge Your Five Senses
Everything you taste, smell, touch, hear, and see can affect your mood. When we spot a butterfly or take the perfect bite of food, our senses are heightened and we instantly feel excitement and joy. So, satisfy your sweet tooth with that piece of cake, light a fresh candle, pet your furry friends, listen to songs that boost your spirits, or watch the sunset. Anything you can do that awakens your senses will give you feelings of joy.
3. Change up Your routine
Do you feel stuck in a rut like a hamster running on a wheel? When this happens, it’s easy to see the smallest of troubles as an epic problem. A quick fix is to switch up your daily regimen.
If you always start your morning off with coffee, consider drinking tea. Instead of driving the same route to work, try taking a scenic detour. Shaking up your routine and trying new things will allow you to find unexpected excitement and joy in life.
4. Become the Main Character
One of the biggest fears people have in life is loneliness or worrying that they might be lacking, which can hinder joy. By filling that gap with self-love, you become the main character of your life story.
When you no longer feel the need to always be surrounded by people and you are glad to spend time with yourself—that is joy. It means all of the people in your life are great supporting characters, and you are the star of the show. Once this is achieved, you become more self-reliant, and keeping happiness alive is much easier to achieve.
5. Take Time for Mindful Activities
Are you constantly on the go and busy? Setting aside time in your day to slow down and exhale leads to a wonderful feeling of being at peace. This could be through meditating, walking, gardening, journaling, reading, or even folding laundry. Creating a quiet space allows you to hear your thoughts, and it nurtures the soul. By practicing mindfulness, you can let go of stress and replace it with joy and calm.
6. Give Yourself a Makeover
Sometimes, simply dressing up or putting on makeup can change your outlook and help you feel refreshed. Think about it—whenever your hair is curled or freshly cut, do your spirits feel lifted? Most likely, yes! Even getting your nails done can make you feel glamorous and ready to take on the day. When you pay attention to grooming, you look your finest and feel your best, which is a fast track to experiencing joy.
7. Be Silly and Unleash Your Inner Child
As we get older, we tend to become more cynical and lose sight of our inner child and the ability to be silly and have fun. But the key to staying plugged into the experience of joy is to remind us of our youthful spirit. Sometimes, we have to go on that roller coaster, roll down a grassy hill, or have a sleepover like we did as kids to feel pure bliss. By occasionally letting go of any rigidness that comes with growing up, we can shake off the doldrums and truly enjoy ourselves.
8. Treat Yourself
There is a reason retail therapy exists, and it does not have to break the bank! Consider buying a new outfit, take yourself out to a fancy dinner, or pick out something small that makes you smile. Give yourself the experiences you dream about having each day. When you are bogged down or going through a difficult time, treating yourself feels rejuvenating and helps you find joy in life.
9. Experience the Outdoors
Nature is full of amazing sights and sounds that can put a smile on your face. Consider stepping outside for a moment to feel the sun on your skin and the grass beneath your feet. Embarking on a camping trip or going for a hike or bike ride are great ways to immerse yourself in the outdoors. When you can experience the world’s natural wonders, you open the door to discovering beauty and joy.
10. Start Conversations
Are you so busy with work, school, taking care of the kids, or any number of daily tasks that you rarely find time to engage in meaningful dialogue with other people? Making room for conversations can become especially hard when you are going through a difficult time.
During these periods, talking to someone and seeking another person’s advice can feel supportive and uplifting. So, cherish the connections you have with people by taking a second to text an old friend or call someone you have been thinking about. You might end up having a rewarding conversation that leaves you feeling warm and cheerful.
11. Conquer a Fear
When was the last time you felt the thrill of taking a leap of faith or conquering an activity that frightened you? The feeling of joy that comes from knowing you completed something you were hesitant about is very gratifying. It can be scary going on a blind date or giving a presentation at work, but once you forge through it, you will feel so much joy. Even solving a crisis can bring us this feeling.
Pushing through fear is when we discover just how resilient we are. When difficult times are followed by winning moments, we prove our ability to overcome adversity and thrive. If you are considering how to navigate fear and take your power back, it is helpful to look at these 12 tips for managing crises.
12. Accomplish Small Tasks
No one likes the feeling of a never-ending to-do list. Instead of trying to check off all your tasks in a day or week, consider making life more manageable and reward yourself for accomplishing even the smallest of things. This could be something as little as hitting the snooze button just once instead of five times or finally putting away the heap of clothes that has been living in the corner of your room for weeks on end.
Allowing yourself to be proud of completing both big and little tasks will help you feel more accomplished, peaceful, and happy.
13. Limit Your Screen Time
These days we, are always looking at one screen or another—our phone, TV, or computer—and we rarely glance up to fully take in our surroundings. Social media can easily become overwhelming, and watching too many Netflix shows or movies can make us wish we were living a completely different life.
Being away from screens for some time helps us feel more present and productive, and it reminds us to quit comparing our lives to what we see on Facebook and Instagram. It allows us to redirect our focus and love the life we have. So, where possible, consider setting screen limits for yourself and view in increments. You will find joy in those moments that were formerly taken up by distractions from phones and reality TV.
14. Release Your Emotions
Have you ever been so overwhelmed or stressed out that you felt like a shaken-up can of soda about to explode? We have all been there. Releasing those pent up and negative feelings will enable you to experience other, more positive, emotions.
Getting in a good hard workout, taking a long shower, or cranking up the music and singing along are great ways to pop the soda cap and feel more relaxed. When your mind and body are free from tension, it is much easier to find joy in life.
15. Appreciate the Little Things in Life
When we are going through a difficult time, we can become so concerned with the future or the past that we miss out on life’s simple pleasures in the present. Perhaps it’s the sound of a child’s laugh, an unexpected rainbow in the sky, or finding an onion ring in a basket of shoestring fries. These little surprises in life can easily be overlooked, but taking the time to appreciate them will make each day more rewarding.
Practicing gratitude is another path to happiness. When we remind ourselves to appreciate the everyday gifts in life, like the fresh air we breathe or good friends and family, we automatically find more joy in our daily lives.
Helping people is tremendously rewarding. Consider spending some of your time elevating others through service. It could be tutoring, helping out at a shelter, donating clothes, or taking out your neighbor’s trash.
When you move the focus off of your problems and assist others, you will feel new purpose and joy. Volunteering can allow us to stop dwelling on negativity in our lives and put that energy into uplifting people. When we do things for others, we are not only feeling joy but passing it on, too.
17. Remind Yourself of Your “Why”
Sometimes, just remembering what you are striving for will help get you out of a frustrating rut. Try considering how you got where you are today and what matters most to you. Focusing on things that excite you about the career you chose, the reason you joined the gym, or what pushed you to finally explore a new city will bring joy back into your life. By keeping your “why” prioritized and at the top of your mind, you will continually feel inspired and encouraged to keep going.
18. Learn to Let Go
It can be challenging to release something that has been a staple in your life, but you may discover that by allowing yourself to let go of it, you experience more joy. If you are unhappy and struggling, know that it is perfectly okay to change direction and leave a job you have had for fifteen years or end a long-term relationship.
Certain aspects of life you thought were vital might actually be what is holding you back from feeling real joy. When we learn to leave behind careers, connections, or habits that are no longer serving us, we allow ourselves to feel rejuvenated and prepared to embrace new adventures and enjoyment in life.
19. Take Time Out From the Spotlight
Creating a flow between the need to be focused and the ability to relax will help you find more joy. There are times you need to be in the spotlight, and the same goes for being in the shadows.
The shadows require less energy: sleeping, eating comfort food, or just lounging and doing nothing. When it is time for a work presentation or a school exam, you are back in the spotlight and exerting all of the energy that you saved up in the shadows.
Many people stay in the spotlight for too long, and they burn out. You have to be intentional about remembering to take time in the shadows. Striking a balance between the two will help you create more balance, and you will discover and appreciate when you feel the most joy.
The Bottom Line
Joy is an emotion and state of being we all strive for, and finding it does not require an immense amount of effort. These 19 tips are all examples of small action steps you can take to feel more peace and happiness, and you may already be doing them without even knowing it. So, challenge yourself to adopt two or three new, bliss-inducing habits over the next several weeks and watch your joy in life grow.