Many people look for happiness. You may try to fill your life with things you think will make you happy: a fulfilling job with good pay, a large friend group or travel opportunities. Despite this, you may feel like your friends or coworkers are much happier than you.
When talking about how we feel, we often think happiness and joy are the same. However, happiness and joy stem from different experiences. For example, watching a movie at the theatre might make you happy. It provides short-term, personal comfort. Joy has a closer connection with long-term wellbeing as it involves interaction and purpose. For example, if you started volunteering at a seniors’ centre or writing in a gratitude journal, you may feel joy. Seeking joy over happiness can help you feel more satisfied because it is purposeful.
The benefits of finding joy
Dissatisfaction in life and ongoing stress can have a negative impact on your mental health. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, poor mental health can lead to chronic physical health conditions. Pursuing joy is an ideal way to care for your mental health.
Research shows that people who pursue joy display more resilience to stress and trauma, have more friends and social support, have stronger immune systems and are physically healthier. Building relationships, helping communities and connecting with others improves our wellbeing on many levels.
Creating moments of joy
Finding joy doesn’t need to cost money. While donating money to charity or surprising a friend with flowers are options, there are many ways to find joy. Some options include living mindfully, spending time building valuable relationships, being a mentor or role model, or volunteering with local organizations.
Inspire moments of joy with the following:
- Approach gratitude with purpose. Enjoy the scent of your favourite tea, cherish deep chats with friends or savour the softness of your pet’s fur. Noticing good daily experiences gives us a greater appreciation for life.
- Practice micro-acts of kindness. Send a thank-you letter to a loved one, bake something for a neighbour, give compliments or clean up your local park. Acts of kindness help manage stress and give a greater sense of purpose in life.
- Find moments of awe. Admire nature’s beauty while on a hike or walk, or reflect on the words of a role model. Try letting wonder provide perspective on who you are and inspire you to connect with others.
- Find silver linings. Reframing difficult experiences can be hard, but seeing personal growth, new insights or positive results can enhance joy. Practice finding silver linings with 4 steps.
- Connect with others. Harvard’s 80-year-old health study found that strong relationships build better life satisfaction than class, wealth, fame, IQ or genes. Taking time to build lasting relationships with people you care about inspires joy.
Pause and reflect on how you create joy in your life. Write down what you’re grateful for and highlight meaningful connections in your life. Find charities or organizations you can support in your community. There are countless ways to improve your wellbeing. Make joy a habit by thinking of 1 simple act you can do daily to spark positive feelings. It might be as easy as thanking a friend.
Looking for more information to create joy in your life? Check out the following practical resources:
- Explore Alberta Blue Cross’s® wellness resources to learn new ways to connect with others.
- Read our micro-habits blog post for tips on making joy a habit.
- Create a gratitude journal with a week of prompts.
- Improve your wellness through meditation or mindfulness.
- Join the Big Joy project by practicing micro-acts of joy for 7 minutes over 7 days.
- Find more happiness practices with Greater Good in Action.
- Give back to your community by volunteering.