5 Ways to Reclaim Joy During Difficult Times

by Marcia Smalley

Joy was in short supply. I’d received a lot of bad news from several people in my life. It was a litany of loss. And never mind the world news in general, which is almost always hard to hear. I longed for more good cheer, for myself and for my loved ones.

So I thought about the concept of joy and promised myself I’d somehow grab a little.

By definition, joy stems from emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. At this point in life, most of us have discovered a lot of things that make us feel joyful. We’ve accomplished much in our professions, headed off in new directions, cultivated nourishing relationships and embraced life enhancing activities.

But we know we can’t be happy all the time. Sometimes joy goes missing. We’re human, after all. We’re wise enough to understand that we rarely have a perfect balance of wellbeing in all aspects of our lives. And sometimes the scales tip in a way that makes reclaiming our joy just plain difficult.

The good news is that joy isn’t an all-or-nothing gift, and we don’t have to just wait for it to return when it goes into hiding. Even when life’s bleak, we can reclaim our joy in small pieces and get back to a sense of contentment.

How Do You Define Joy?

Drop into a moment of silence and reach back to times when you felt lighter. Go as far back as you need. Close your eyes and think of people, places and events that lifted you up. Happy moments that feel lasting, not fleeting.

Capture that feeling state in your heart. That place is your True Joy, and it’s just a deep breath away. Now watch for opportunities every day to feel that way again, even if only for a few moments.

Be with People Who Make You Jump for Joy

We sometimes have to spend time with the Negative Nellies. But if you could choose, who is it that always brightens the room? Lifts your spirits?

Reach out to her or him, and welcome that cheerful exchange of energy that comes when being in their company.

The Glass Really Is Half Full

We all want to be optimistic, but sometimes we hold ourselves back – especially during hard times. True, nothing’s perfect all the time, but there is a gift of perfection in every moment.

Within every negative situation there’s a kernel of a different truth that brings more peace. There is another way to think about the situation, one that doesn’t feel so troubling.

Bring that peaceful thought to the surface. Go with it. A little joy will follow.

Get Some Fresh Air

It’s hard not to be happy at the beach. Or while watching a majestic sunset. Even a walk down a neighborhood street can lift our spirits.

Spending time outdoors is healing. Nature is both perfect and imperfect at the same time, and Mother Nature is joyful either way. She’s a good teacher.

Take Care of Yourself

When you do have to hit the pause button on your joy, simply rest. Cuddle under a blanket. Sleep the extra 15 minutes. Remember that this, too, shall pass.

A healthy, rested you will find it easier to combat stress and negativity and to make room for more joy.

We can live with the reality that joy is sometimes hard to find. But we don’t have to give up on being joyful. A slight shift in thinking or a small change in behavior can be uplifting. And that’s a good place to start reclaiming Joy.

What do you do to reclaim your joy when times are troubling? Do you have any strategies you can share with the community? Please join the conversation!

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