Understanding what turns you on in life is part of learning about yourself. It is a process foundational to everything you read on this blog, because like boundaries, I can’t tell you what you will love – sorry! Let yourself enjoy the joy-seeking process with the energy and excitement you used to have as a child. If you had a crappy, strict childhood – I give you full authority to LET GO and explore. You’re welcome 🙂
I am a learner by nature, so I tend to try new things all the time. Sometimes I try things I like, and other times I try things that I really don’t. If you don’t have hobbies, or interests, it’s a good idea to get out and try a bunch of things (safely!) to see what turns you on. You might find that you enjoy things that are challenging, or that you hate challenge. You might learn what comes naturally for you.
Most importantly, when you start getting into new things, you begin developing not only a sense of joy, but an individual sense of who you are and what matters to you. Get in the habit of dreaming, something we sadly stop doing at some point.
Writing, helping others, doing yoga, playing strategy board games, creating pretty things, growing flowers, all bring me joy. I make time for those things because they give me the energy to keep going. I try many things, and carefully pay attention to how they make me feel. If something feels draining regularly (draining, not challenging), I promptly remove it from my life.
I know this seems easier said than done, and in truth, it is. Distinguishing what brings you authentic joy from those things that you feel should bring you joy is difficult. Listening to that inner compass is challenging because it forces us, sometimes, into a place of cognitive dissonance. “I should value this job for the amazing pay, but I don’t want to get out of bed to get there.”, “I should enjoy cooking because everyone on Pinterest looks so happy doing it, but it makes me anxious to come up with the perfect meal plan.”
Finding time for this is critical. I am not recommending that you spend hours on the task; 5 minutes a few times throughout the day is sufficient. The idea is to make constant joy-assessment a habit. My personal favorites are right as I’m going to sleep, while I’m showering, while I’m driving. If you have kids and can’t find time to escape, make it a family affair. We actually pose these kinds of “dream it” questions to our kiddos all the time, but sadly don’t practice it ourselves. Have them draw a picture or write a story. Chances are they will have more fun with it, so take a lesson from them and dream big! If you do have time to yourself, and you happen to be a Pintrester like me, you might find creating a secret board will help you review the kinds of things that seem to bring you joy. Maybe you find you pin a lot of blue, a ton of farmscapes, family portraits, or funny memes. Whatever the commonalities are, it will help bring realization to the things that bring your heart happiness. Don’t focus too much on that now, though. Just pin, list, or make notes.
This exercise is about self reflection and honing in on what kinds of things make you feel joy, and it is extremely important in establishing real goals, knowing what makes you happy, and learning the difference between feeling real joy and simply settling.
When you first start really thinking about what makes you tick, you might be surprised. The most important thing to remember is that joy is an individual as we are human. There is no right or wrong answer, and the quest for joy is extremely personal. Try not to involve other people, and be painfully honest with yourself.
Also, leading a joy-filled life is more of a lifestyle in itself. Certainly it is a mentality that is easier to maintain once you understand how to properly assess your life and the people and material things in it, but do not be discouraged if something that once brought joy no longer does. Living joyfully means learning to constantly reassess, and being emotionally intelligent enough to recognize when your needs and interests have changed. Be honest with yourself, and release to the universe as necessary.
I am honest with myself and embrace the fluidity of living for joy.