Our days can’t always feel like that first really warm spring day or a first day of a really wonderful vacation or a perfectly relaxed Sunday morning with a whole day of doing whatever you want ahead of you. (Although now that I write this, that sounds pretty great!) So the way to more joy isn’t to wait for those special but rare moments, but to try to find a little bit of it in the experiences that fill your everyday.
Yes, I do mean those mundane experiences like commuting to work or taking a shower or cleaning up in the kitchen after dinner. Will they ever feel like the excitement of an exotic vacation? No. But scientific research has shown that older people attribute their happiness to small, ordinary experiences -- and since they’ve lived a longer life, I think we should take this to heart. So here are some simple tips for how to be happier by getting a little more joy out of the ordinary moments that fill your days:
Add something to your spaces that brings you joy. Do you spend a lot of time driving around in your car? Make sure the inside of it is nice and clean so that when you get into it, you feel like you can exhale. Spend a few hours de-cluttering your closets and leaving only the clothes that bring you joy -- you look at this space daily, so make it one that makes you feel good. (Recently I used the KonMari decluttering method and it absolutely transformed my relationship with my closet.) Print out a quote that inspires you and put it somewhere on your desk. Add a bit of color to your kitchen. None of these take a long time but if you can do something to the spaces you see daily to bring you a smile, think of how often you will smile during the day.
Create a negative-positive association. The other day during yoga class there was a ton of horn-honking outside and more police sirens than we usually hear. Our instructor saw us getting annoyed -- yoga is supposed to be Zen, after all! -- and said something really powerful. She suggested that every time we hear a horn honking we think of something awesome that is happening in the world. Perhaps a child is born, or someone got some great medical news, or a person in need got something they needed. There are annoying things that fill our days, no doubt. Can you create this negative-positive association for some of them?
Have a tiny ritual you love. A ritual can be incredibly simple -- it’s all about something you create with intention and the intention here is to add joy. Maybe you play your favorite playlist while you’re cooking dinner. (Here’s my Awesomeness Sampler playlist on Spotify that I often turn to during my Sunday cooking marathons.) Or perhaps you enjoy your absolute favorite cup of coffee while paying bills. Creating a tiny ritual of joy around an experience that is otherwise dull or boring or annoying can be transformative. (Just come to my house on Sunday nights and check it out!)