When we are children, the world is filled with beautiful joy. We feel excitement to the point where we can’t sit still. Think back to a moment of when you were told you were going to the park, Christmas was tomorrow or you were going out for ice cream. How excited did you get? The pleasure in these moments isn’t in the moment itself; it is how we felt about the moment. We also had a knack for just being happy that the day was here. We simply felt joy, just because. We felt the painful emotions just as much, but that is what made the pleasant ones that much better.
As we grow up and become “adults” we lose some of the innocence that childhood joy encompasses. We start putting conditions on happiness. Instead of being thrilled about an event coming up, we first ask how much it will cost. Instead of telling someone how much we love him or her, we hold off for the fear of rejection. Instead of feeling excited for a big moment in life, we caution ourselves for all the things that could ruin it. Every moment of joy can be discounted one way or another. The cycle then becomes that we need something to be a certain way to fully enjoy it. We will need certain things to ensure we are able to really be happy. It is an endless cycle that leaves us working towards happiness instead of living it.
We may also try to avoid the pain by minimizing the joy we feel in many things throughout our lives. Most people, at one time or another, don’t tell people in their lives about something they are excited about in fear it will fall apart. We hesitate to do something fun because others may judge us. All of us have felt disappointed and some think we can avoid it if we don’t let ourselves really feel happiness. Many of us have numbed to the point where we don’t feel any different whether we are experiencing something good or bad. This causes us to go through the motions and we are no longer living at all, we just exist.
Most people don’t want to live this way. Many of us crave joy and it is what we spend most of our time trying to find. Here are some things that you can do to help bring some joy into your life:
- Bring back the child – The person who got ecstatic at all the little things in life is still inside of you. Think about the things you looked forward to as a kid. Did you have a favorite cereal you were only allowed to eat sometimes? Did you look forward to a particular activity? Was there a cartoon that made you laugh? Bring back all those memories. Many of them you can integrate into your life in some way. Watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. Read your favorite book from childhood. Go to a playground and swing. Don’t think about how foolish, just get excited about it and do it.
- Laugh – Some people are great at this, others are not at all. Laugh everyday. Laugh at a movie. Laugh with your friends or family. Laugh for no reason at all. Just start laughing.
- Be silly – One of the many things we can learn from young children is how to just do what you want without fear of judgment. Make a funny face. Dance around your house to the song you love. Have a food fight. Don’t take yourself so seriously and spend some time just having fun.
- Feel – Feel your emotions, in their entirety. The more you allow yourself the feel the good and the bad, the stronger the good will become. Don’t keep yourself from joy for fear of pain. Both are part of the experience. Love them, embrace them and live them. Don’t just exits.