I’ve come to realize that most of us don’t allow ourselves to feel joy most days. Think about your past week: Did you experience anything joyful and wondrous? Or was your week marked by routine, busyness, and the stress of doing doing doing?
If you felt joy and wonder daily, you’re likely the exception. Most people don’t seem to feel joy regularly, or even realize that that’s the case.
Let’s change that.
Joy and wonder are two emotions we lose for so many reasons: We’re worried about ourselves, we’re stressed, the world seems anything but joyful. But wouldn’t we like to live a life that has joy every day? Wouldn’t we like to marvel at this incredible world and the wonder of humanity?
We can still get stuff done and function in society with a greater degree of joy and wonder. It isn’t as if these two emotions would knock us out of step with our fellow people. In fact, I’d argue that the people around us will appreciate our uplifting demeanor and this emotional uptick will come through in our work as well.
So how do we bring joy and wonder into our lives? It starts by simply recognizing that we want this. That it’s allowed. We can give ourselves permission to feel alive and joyous.
Here are some practices you might try:
- Go outside and pause to truly see the world around you. Feel yourself, your breath, the breeze on your skin, the sunshine on your face. Look at the world as it rests there, stretching out around you. You are the middle of a universe, a singular reality that only you will ever know. Whatever you see and hear now is a formulation of atomic particles coursing through your sensory organs and getting assembled in your brain. Take a moment to just acknowledge where you are.
- Use your body. Run around, dance, evoke joy in your kinetic presence in the world. Skip around like a kid. Shake off the dreary dust of daily life. See the open and vibrant nature of the universe. Climb a tree, do handstands, or dance. When you see other people, delight in their humanity.
- Every day, ask yourself a simple question: “Where did I see God today?” If you don’t believe in God, you can take that to mean, “Where did I see the divine or sacred today?” or “Where did I see the wonder in the world?” It could be in nature, in the humble kindness of a co-worker, or the uplifting spirit of classical music.
Joy and wonder are easily lost in the muck of modern life. Don’t let them slip away. Take a moment and just pretend you are full of joy. You might be surprised at what you open up.
Leo Babauta is the author of six books, the writer of Zen Habits, a blog with over 2 million subscribers, and the creator of several online programs to help you master your habits. Visit ZenHabits.net