centuries, joy has been an aspiration of humanity. One of the
most often adapted melodies of classical music is Beethoven’s
Ode to Joy. Joy is defined in many different ways. Dr. Ned Hallowell,
in his book The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, says
that joy is “…a moment that makes people say’
Wow!, I’m so lucky to be alive’.” Martin Seligman,
another researcher who is examining joy in the modern human context,
uses the term gratifications instead of joy. He defines gratification
as “a momentary burst of bliss or an activity that absorbs
and engages us fully”.
Sonja Lyubomirsky has found that much of the happiness that precedes
moments of joy or gratification is the product of intentional
action taken by individuals. Reframing or casting events in a
positive light is one way of prompting moments of joy. Buddha
is credited with this thought; “ All that we are is the
result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we
think, we become.” A spiritual leader of 20th century America
espoused the power of positive thinking and the term has become
embedded in the English language.
addition to reframing there are several other strategies that
can contribute to increased happiness and its by-product, joyful
experiences and share them with others.
praise gracefully and gratefully.
yourself in things you enjoy.
time with people you enjoy.
out moments of pleasure.
random acts of kindness.
Acknowledging the things for which you are thankful by journaling
or scrap booking has been shown to increase happiness. This works
best if done year around not just on special occasions. Furthermore,
re-counting happy and joyous experiences allows us to relive them
over and over. Other people can also experience the joy as they
listen or view our account of the experience. Learning to accept
praise gracefully and gratefully gives joy to you and to the person
offering the praise. Let yourself feel worthy of the praise and
know how to keep it “from going to your head”.
your “passions” (things that give you the most pleasure)
and losing yourself in these activities creates the perfect environment
for joy. For many people, sharing the passion with another person
heightens the joy even more. This could be taking hikes at daybreak,
restoring classic cars, attending an opera performance, or reading
a book. However, it is important to space out these activities
because without some variety the enjoyment may fade.
often sends a joy filled message to others. In addition, the use
of the facial muscles needed to form a smile releases stress reducing
hormones. Spend time with people you enjoy. Joy and happiness
are contagious. Being around people who lift your spirits and
make you happy increases the possibility for moments of joy. Practicing
random acts of kindness for friends and for strangers is yet another
way to set the stage for joy and happiness.
person has a different strategy for refueling the spirit. For
some it is a massage, for others a day of solitude. Some may find
a challenging game of golf or tennis the way to feel renewed.
For others, refueling may a be trip to the mountains or a day
of fishing. Maybe a day at the amusement park with grandchildren
is the refueling break. Any change of scenery can provide this
important opportunity to find happiness and possibly even joy.
people who are not drawn to sports need to include some kind of
physical activity for maximum happiness. It should be something
they look forward to and do not find painful or too difficult.
Maybe going back to a favorite activity of childhood will put
the “play” in exercise so that it becomes a catalyst
for happiness and not a burden. Physical activity relieves stress,
increases oxygen to the brain, and provides a change of routine.
give us a reason for getting up each day. They may be small or large.
They may be personal or team goals. Putting a dream or wish on paper
and saying it out loud to others makes it a goal. A person can then
begin developing a step-by-step plan for achieving the goal. Research
shows that even if goals are not fully achieved, working toward
a goal increases happiness.
shows that actively working to increase one’s degree of
happiness has several positive benefits.
other words, seeing the glass half full instead of half empty leads
to longer, healthier lives filled with meaningful relationships.