8 Steps To Help Discern Your Joy


It’s not easy to always figure out where the joy went.

  1. Stop and Relax.

I know, I’m talking crazy talk.  Your mind is racing. Stopping is probably the last thing you want to do. It’s also exactly what you need to do. You can’t see where you are if you’re always moving. I know, it’s the job, or the kids,  or the house, or your family, or just life itself. The pace is hectic and crazy.  But please, find a time, and just stop. Calm your mind.  Find a peaceful place and relax. Try meditating for 10 minutes, even just 5. Do it daily and it will help you refocus.

2. Reflect on Why You are Not Happy.

Now that you caught a glimpse of the big picture, name some things that are not making you happy. It’s reverse thinking. So often we identify those things we don’t like, much faster than those we like. I believe it’s because we have programed ourselves to see and focus the negative things in life and not so much the positives. So for this exercise, let’s capitalize on those feelings.

Make a list of those glaringly obvious things: the stress, the clutter, the unhappiness, lack of time spent with loved ones, no loved ones. Whatever comes to mind, write it down. Make the list as long as you need to. Even small things can be joy sappers, so write everything down.

       3. Reaffirm Your Values.

Ok. Take a look at the list you made. Take the first item on it and ask yourself, what values it represents. Let’s take ” lack of time spent with loved ones.” What values are associated with those?  Well, one would be a lack of priority for loved ones. Another value could be  that things  are more important than people. Still another could be that you don’t love yourself.

Are these really your values? Or did you lose sight of them in all of the chaos? Living against your personal set of  values pulls at your inner being. You can’t be joyful if the choices you make are not authentically who you are. Take some time to think about what is most important to you.  What are your core values?

4. Vision.

You’ve  identified what’s wrong.  You’ve listed what your values are.  Now you get to dream. Now you get to think about possibilities.  This will be your vision.  As you go about making the changes you want in your life, your vision will keep you grounded.

What do you want your life to be? How do you really want your life to unfold? What people are with you? What will you be doing? Keep asking the “what” questions until you are satisfied with the answers.  Create a Pinterest page with things that inspire you. Create a vision board with magazine clippings or find your favorite things and put them where you can see them everyday.  Soak in your vision so that it permeates your being.

5. Reset Your Priorities.

How do you start to make that dream a reality? If it was easy to get back to basics and being happy, you probably would have already done it, right? If you think about it, you’ve just done the hard part. You’ve faced yourself and admitted things are off in your life. You identified specifics and dared to dream of something better and wonderful. So, let’s go forward.

Pick one thing that you can change right now to put your actions back on track with your values. Maybe it’s working less hours, or setting aside time for a meal with the family where you just talk.  Maybe it’s getting some exercise or getting coffee with friends. Just start with one thing.  When that gets to be a routine, change something else.  Don’t rush the process, just go slow and steady. Do what feel right to you.

6. Get Out In Nature.

Why, you ask? Well, being outside, whether going for a hike or strolling in the park, can have a magical affect. It draws you out of yourself and your problems. Your mind relaxes and  it finds other more calming things to focus on: joyful things; positive things. You get to breathe fresh air, get a good dose of vitamin D, and exercise, as well.  Try it and see what you think.

7. Reconnect.

One of the most joyful things we can do is to spend time with those dear to us.  We get together and start to laugh.   We tell stories, relax, play, and  smile. So often, when we are stressed, the first things to go are times spent with family and friends.  What we’re forgetting is that those relationships are what keep us healthy, happy and on track.  We’re pulling ourselves away from exactly what we do need during those stressful times. If your family or friends aren’t close at hand, call them.  If that isn’t possible, go out into your community and say hi to your neighbors.

8. Volunteer.

I know this feels like adding another job to your already hectic life. But trust me on this one.  Volunteering is awesome. It’s reconnecting with people, but on an expanded level. You get to do new things, meet new people, go new places, you become part of the place where you live.

There are tons of ways you can volunteer. You can volunteer solo, or with your family. You can volunteer from home doing backyard habitat reports. You can become a school field trip assistant. You can clean up your parks or feed the homeless.  You can knit sweaters for birds (I kid you not!), or help out at the humane society.  The list is endless.


I hope these tips have given you some insight, and a little hope.  If we don’t like the place we’re at, either mentally or physically, we don’t have to stay there.  Things can change for the better.  We just have to decide to do it.

Remember, you are worth it.



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