A lot of people use the words “joy” and “happiness” interchangeably, but they’re quite different.
You see, whereas happiness is a short-term state of bliss, joy has a longer lifespan.
When we cultivate joy, we discover that it’s far more powerful. It may take more effort, but it’s a long-burning ember rather than a short blaze.
Have you been feeling frustrated or depressed lately? Then we’re here to help. Below are 28 tips on how you can find more joy in your everyday life.
You may discover that incorporating a handful of these practices can improve your state of mind exponentially.
1. Be present.
Most of us scurry our way through every action so that we can move on to the next one, without really immersing ourselves in the present moment.
Try being mindful rather than “mind full,” and keep your full focus on what you’re doing. When you’re eating, eat: don’t watch TV or worry about the next day. Same goes for when you’re bathing, drinking coffee or tea, etc.
2. Find joy in the little things.
Are there fun or silly little things that you really like and make you smile every time you encounter them? Then definitely spend more time with those!
Watch bee bums disappear into flowers. Take sheer delight in wearing ridiculously cute socks. Try adding a spoonful of ice cream into your coffee instead of milk. These little pleasures may seem silly, but you know what? GOOD. They’re wonderful.
3. Listen to music you love.
We all have some favorite tunes that never fail to brighten our spirits. When was the last time you cranked up the volume on an album that you love?
Make a new playlist full of music that makes you feel happy. Then play that whenever the whim strikes you. Hey, a great soundtrack can even make housework seem like fun!
4. Bake or cook something delicious from scratch.
Many of us have gotten used to quick meals that we throw together when we have time to do so. Work, childcare, and other responsibilities often leave us reaching for frozen items, or ordering in whenever possible.
Instead, set aside the time you need to prepare an amazing dish (or meal) from scratch. This can be an old favorite, or something new that you’ve always wanted to try. Then you’ll have the dual joy of reveling in new flavors, and conquering new cooking or baking techniques.
And while you’re at it…
5. Celebrate mealtimes.
Use the “good” holiday dishes whenever possible. Drink your morning OJ from Grandma’s treasured crystal stemware.
Make every meal an opportunity to celebrate, with sincere gratitude and appreciation for every bite.
Or, choose a weeknight in which the whole family will be together and make a ritual of preparing and enjoying a meal together, like a traditional Jewish Shabbat evening or Mormon family night.
6. Surround yourself with beauty.
It’s hard to feel happy when your surroundings make you feel “ick.” Are you feeling down about your current decor? Then let’s change things up a bit.
Consider investing in some new linens like new curtains and throw pillows. Get some new art on the walls, or paint rooms in brighter, happier colors.
You spend so much time at home, so make it a place that inspires and delights you.
7. Fill your home with wonderful scents.
This doesn’t mean that you need to hose down every surface with air freshener sprays. Instead, you can incorporate scents that you love in a variety of different ways.
Remember that scent is linked to many aspects of well-being, and aromas evoke different responses for everyone. As a result, make sure to check in with family members or housemates to make sure they’re okay with your choices.
Burn some beautifully scented candles or incense, make homemade room sprays with essential oils, or bake some cinnamon rolls just to make the house smell like a bakery.
Then sit back, close your eyes, inhale, and smile.
8. Spend time with animals.
How delighted do you feel after you’ve spent real quality time cuddling your animal companions? Non-human friends need a lot of love, and everyone feels happier after an hour of solid cuddling.
If you don’t have a pet (or aren’t sure whether you want one), consider fostering some kittens, or volunteering as a dog walker at a local shelter. You and the animals will undoubtedly benefit from time spent together.
9. Write real letters to friends.
Printed emails are all well and good, but we can hear our friends’ voices in their written words. Think about the stacks of letters that our grandparents kept wrapped in ribbons or in special boxes. It takes time and effort to put thoughts to paper, and we all feel amazing when we know that others think enough of us to make that happen.
Get yourself some pretty note cards or stationery and write a few lines to the people you love. It’s actually a lot of fun to write these (especially if you make the cards yourself), and just imagine how delighted they’ll be to receive real mail instead of just bills!
10. Watch a movie that always makes you smile (or laugh).
Do you have a favorite film that always lifts your spirits? Well, when was the last time you watched it? If it’s been a while, ask yourself why you haven’t put it on, and then change that as soon as possible.
Whether your “happy place” revolves around a classic black and white film or something in the MCU, take a “you” night to indulge in it. Make popcorn, put your feet up, and prepare to smile your face off.
11. Get outside more often.
The scientific evidence is clear: being out in nature makes us feel better. The soothing sounds of wind through tree leaves, birdsong, and water flowing calms our nerves and lifts our spirits.
Go for walks in the park or in forested areas whenever possible – preferably far away from the sounds of traffic. Bring a thermos and some snacks, hunker down against a tree, and breathe deeply. You’ll feel amazing afterward.
12. Make time for physical movement.
So many of us live sedentary lives stuck at our desks or glued to the couch. It can make our bodies cramped and uncomfortable.
Be sure to set a bit of time aside every day (or at least a few times a week) for some kind of physical movement.
Take a walk, do some gentle stretching or yoga, go swimming if you can. Anything that moves your limbs and gets your blood flowing. You’ll love the endorphin rush and the strength you’ll feel in your muscles.
13. Get more rest.
Learn to nap. Sleep in whenever possible. Take a hot bath and go to bed early at least twice a week. You’ll be amazed to discover just how much better you feel when you’re well rested.
We live in an era in which exhaustion and working until we drop are lauded as admirable traits. Help turn this around by making real sleep and regular rest some of your top priorities.
14. Dress up for yourself.
Do you find yourself wearing the same clothes all the time, especially if you work remotely? When was the last time you dressed up in some of your favorite items? Make a point of “dressing up” for yourself, simply to celebrate how awesome it feels to wear clothes you adore.
And hey, if you don’t like anything in your wardrobe, maybe do some shopping to amend that.
15. Eliminate clutter.
Cluttered surroundings can make us feel frustrated and claustrophobic. You can change that by packing away, donating, or throwing out whatever you’re not using on a regular basis.
While you’re at it, take note of the media you’re exposing yourself to every day. How much time do you spend (waste) scrolling through these sites? Do they make you feel happy, or depressed? That’s mental clutter you can do without.
Eliminate whatever doesn’t inspire joy in you.
16. Spend less time looking at screens, and more time reading.
The blue light from digital screens has been shown to affect our ability to create melatonin. This prevents us from being able to sleep properly, and has been associated with migraine headaches, anxiety, and stress.
When was the last time you read an actual book? If you live remotely and have difficulty accessing a library or book store, then consider something like a Kindle Paperwhite, which doesn’t have the blue light effect. But whenever possible, try to read books printed on real paper.
There’s something very comforting and human about flipping pages, especially if you’re in a comfy chair.
17. Celebrate your inner luddite.
Try turning off all electric lights (and unnecessary appliances) for the night and spend the evening by candlelight. Plan ahead to learn how to cook a meal on (or in) your woodstove or fireplace, if you have one.
See how you feel after spending a few evenings pioneer or Amish style, without the glare and buzz of so much artificiality around you.
18. Take up (or make time for) a hobby you love.
Do you have any hobbies or crafty interests that you love, but haven’t spent much time doing lately? Maybe you’ve been working around the clock, or you spend your downtime playing phone games instead. Hey, we all do what we need to in order to decompress.
That said, can you remember how much fun you used to have when you engaged with that hobby?
Pick up your carving knives and get back to work on that gorgeous bowl you were making by hand. Knit one more row of that sweater or shawl you put down months ago. Let your hands remember these movements and how fulfilled you feel when you craft something yourself.
19. Learn something new.
Learning new skills and languages gives us an immense sense of accomplishment, and opens up magnificent new doors for us.
For instance, you might have always wanted to learn how to drive a boat. After getting your license, you may decide that you want to move into a houseboat on a canal somewhere.
Or maybe learning another language will open up a new career path for you, since many companies appreciate multilingual employees.
What have you always wanted to learn, but set aside for “some other time”?
And what better time than now to get started learning it?
20. Set an attainable goal to inspire yourself.
Many of us create big, long-term goals that we end up striving toward for months. These can get discouraging, especially during periods of depression.
Instead, make a small goal that’s fairly easy to attain. For example, make it a goal to drink 8 glasses of water tomorrow, or return that overdue library book. Crossing that off as achieved will make you feel a small burst of accomplishment, and that’s awesome.
As you set and complete small goals on a regular basis, you’ll cultivate that long-term feeling of joy.
21. Make creativity a priority.
When was the last time you allowed yourself to get really creative? We’re talking about painting a big canvas, welding an amazing sculpture, getting inventive in the kitchen with delicious ingredients, or writing a story that’s been percolating in your brainmeats.
Humans are creative beings, and that creativity needs to be expressed. Without some kind of a creative outlet, we often end up feeling despondent.
What kind of creativity do you like best? If you don’t already have the materials you need, get them. Then set aside the time you need to make the magic happen.
22. Find and/or stick to your life purpose(s).
Many people who experience depression or feeling “lost” haven’t yet figured out their life’s purpose. They might find themselves wondering if what they do on a day-to-day basis is all there is, and whether there’s anything else they should be doing with their lives.
Others have a solid idea of their life purpose, but feel like it’s unattainable. Maybe they see it as being unrealistic, or that they have to settle because of established life and family responsibilities.
If you fall into either of these categories, you might want to make a solid game plan as to how you can shift your life to one that’s more in line with your purpose. Starting small is absolutely okay! Little actions here and there all add up to create major change (and greater joy).
23. Determine where you may be living inauthentically, and try to change that.
Have you been keeping up appearances in any aspect of your life in order to make others more comfortable? Or to avoid rocking the boat, so to speak?
If so, you may be feeling depressed about living a life that doesn’t feel “true” to you. Few things will sap the joy from you more than living a lie.
Figure out why you’re wearing these masks, and then sort out what steps you need to discard them. An authentic life is invariably a happier, and more fulfilled one.
24. Express yourself.
Depression and anxiety can sometimes stem from unexpressed emotions. Have you been feeling frustrated about a situation but are afraid to bring it up? Or are you feeling sorrow but feel like you can’t let it out?
Write a letter about it, whether you end up sharing it or not. Have a good cry in the shower. Unexpressed emotion can manifest in many ways, and it can be a major block on feeling unbridled joy, so let it out however you can.
25. Try to worry and stress less.
This may be easier said than done, especially if you’re naturally anxious or have a panic disorder. But it can be done by anyone who puts their mind to it.
The key is to make little changes over time, rather than huge changes overnight.
Whenever you find yourself feeling anxious or panicky about a topic or situation, take a deep breath. Distract yourself with something else rather than allowing yourself to spin down the “what if” rabbit hole.
Your success rate for surviving difficulty up to this point is 100%. Whatever it is, it’ll be okay. Let go, and let things flow.
26. Take one step toward a big dream of yours.
We talked about setting attainable goals earlier, and this expands upon that endeavor.
Is there a big life dream that you’d like to achieve? You might not be able to write an epic novel this weekend, but could you get started on some character notes right now?
Or if the weather isn’t right for you to transform your yard into a thriving vegetable garden, you can at least start some herbs in pots on a sunny windowsill!
Whatever it is you dream of achieving, there’s absolutely something you can start today, right now, to get the ball rolling. Write down absolutely everything you need to achieve it, and get it started!
27. Do something in service of others.
Some might consider this to be a type of “selfish altruism,” but it does good things for everyone involved. Taking an action that’s in service to another feels great, but more importantly, you’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.
The other person (or people) will benefit from this action, but above and beyond there’s a feeling of “rightness” about it.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Knit for charities that help the homeless or elderly. Donate to a cause that matters to you and don’t tell anyone. Whatever makes you feel good knowing that you’re helping those in need.
28. Keep a gratitude journal.
Taking the time to write down a few things that made you feel grateful each and every night can help you realize just how much beauty you experience in your life.
You don’t need to write a lot – simply a few lines or words before you go to sleep.
“Today I am grateful for homemade soup, rainfall on my thirsty garden, and the friendly neighborhood cat who always runs over to me for scritches.”
Simple notes like that add up to a lot of gratitude over the course of a year.
You may also like:
- How To Slow Down And Enjoy Life: 12 No Nonsense Tips
- 11 Ways To Enjoy Life Like Never Before
- How To Be Happy Again: 15 Tips To Rediscover Your Happiness
- 7 Things To Do When Nothing Makes You Happy