Cultivating Joy


January is typically a very stressful time of year for many people. There are various explanations for the stress. The reasons for the increase of stress include: too much money spent over the holidays, unresolved grief and loss which were exacerbated over the holidays, stress from residual unpleasant holiday interactions, lack of sunlight, increase of cold weather or the return to their work schedule after the holidays. Maybe the reason for the lack of joy is none of the above. I’m not as concerned with the why your joy is decreased. I think this is a trap, that so many people fall into. I have watched countless clients and professionals get caught in the trap of getting stuck in where the joy went and why it is gone.  

From my experience, January was a particularly tough time because people would be filled with so much hope of change and yet I couldn’t manifest such hope. But trying to find the why or where it went was like going down the rabbit’s hole in Alice in Wonderland. Once down that rabbit hole, things take on a new meaning and a new form. Your perception is absolutely altered, and that’s not very helpful.


Therefore, I would encourage you to agree that the how’s and why’s are not as relevant, as much as what we are going to do about it. I would encourage each and every one of you, to develop a way to check in with your daily amount of joy and make a commitment to increase it. Below are the ways that I have changed my life from one of depression and gloom to happiness and joy.


  1. Gratitude: I have been using a gratitude list since the early 90’s. And I could make the longest and most thorough list possible, in record time. However, when I changed the format of my gratitude from just a regular list to a specified pattern; it was a complete game changer. I currently use this format for my gratitude: I am grateful for _______ because ___________.
  2. Focus on what you want: So many times we are focused on what we don’t want, what we don’t like and what doesn’t please us. Let’s think of how a snowball gains momentum as it’s rolling. A very similar thing happens to our thoughts; the more you focus on positive thoughts the more positive thoughts you will find. It becomes an endless cycle of positivity.
  3. Fake it until you make it: This one could be titled as so many different things. In reality, I’m less concerned with what you call it and more focused on that you do it. Let’s make an agreement to set a goal of smiling a certain amount of times per day. The mere act of smiling induces joy. What is your response when someone smiles at you? The most typical response is to smile back.
  4. Get out of your own way: My all time favorite way to do this is to do something kind anonymously for someone else. When I used to work with others in an agency, we made a huge game of doing kind things anonymously for others. In my case, I worked really hard at it. If I got caught doing it, it didn’t count. Examples of things I have done include: sending people cards, putting flowers on someone’s desk, scrapping snow or ice off of someone’s windshield, cleaning someone else’s office for them, etc. The key is to be creative and to have fun.
  5. Spend time with people who fill you up: We all have those people in our lives… The people who give us the sensation that we can’t do anything wrong… Those people who believe in us so fully that even if they were shown documentable proof of something you did wrong, they would struggle to believe it. If you don’t have those types of people in your life now, find them! They are crucial for our existence.
  6. Make yourself the highest priority: I recently wrote a blog about this, and I mean it fully! Once you are, the best things that you can do to increase joy in your life is to make yourself such a high priority that your own self-care is crucial. By being a higher priority than others, the impact that other peoples words and behaviors have on you is automatically lowered.
  7. Make the decision: I am sure this sounds somewhat trite, but it’s really a game changer. Once you make a decision, you on some level, commit to it occurring. The commitment and decision conspire together to make your goals happen. Here’s the key to making a decision: make it over and over and over again, repeatedly. A decision is not something that is made in a vacuum. It is crucial to make this particular decision repeatedly and consistently. You are worth it!


At the end of the day, I’m not as concerned with how you increase the amount of joy in your life - as the fact that you do it. Maybe none of these suggestions resonate with you, than create your own list. I’d love to hear the impact these suggestions (or your own) made on our daily life.


JennBoveeLCSW is a Life Coach, Psychotherapist, and Hypnotherapist. She provides sessions for her clients in person as well as at a distance. Learn more about Jenn here: