Six Strategies to Have a More Joyful Life

There is a pathway worth walking. There is a life mantra worth embracing. There is an attitude that enhances your life. It is JOYFUL LIVING! Here are six ways to live a more rewarding life. We'll use the acrostic, "JOYFUL."

J is for JOIN. Surround yourself with happy people. Happiness is contagious. So, join a friend for lunch. A friend that I worked with as writers for several magazines found me on facebook. We have not seen each other in more than ten years! I found out she is ten minutes from me. So, I'm going to join her for lunch soon to really catch up after all these years. Join your spouse for some quiet time. Sometimes we are in such a hurry we don't slow down long enough to have a true (electronics free) conversation. You can also join a church where you feel welcomed and comfortable. Joining a church body contributes dramatically to a joyful life!

O is for OPEN. Open your heart to Philanthropy. Philanthropy means the love of humanity. Find a charitable cause to support. Some folks like to actively participate in causes. Whether it be running a 5K for Breast Cancer or helping the homeless, supporting a cause is giving back and raises your joyful feelings. I love an idea I saw on Facebook for helping the homeless. It's called, "Blessing Bags." You take a gallon size ziplock bag and fill it with things like socks, a $5 dollar bill, a restaurant gift card, toothpaste and toothbrush, snacks, a battery operated fan, etc. Keep a couple in your car ready to bless the next homeless person you see. My Bible study group collected soft baby blankets for the Pregnancy Resource Center. If you can, contribute financially to a cause like St. Jude's Children's Hospital. The possibilities are endless and helping others bring you joy!

Y is for YANK. Yank the negative people right out of your life! You can't live a positive life with a negative mind. Hanging out with gripers, complainers and whiners will suck you into a vortex of misery. In fact, the old saying goes, "Misery loves company." This is a true statement. People who are negative want you to join into their misery. You don't need it. You are the company you keep is another true saying. Hang out with positive people who have your same values. When I say, "Yank them out of your life," it doesn't need to be a big, dramatic deal. Just hang out with them less or limit your conversations. There's enough bad news in the world... you don't need people, or so called friends dragging you down.

F is for FIND. Find your smile. Smiling regularly, on purpose, brings you joy. I make it a point to connect with people, even strangers, with a simple smile accompanied by, "Good Morning!" It lifts people's spirits and it lifts your own as well. Search YouTube videos on humor. Watch a comedy movie with friends. A good belly laugh produces endorphins that make you feel good inside. Find the humor in everyday life. I stopped at a store the other day to buy a cold drink and when I opened the cooler door I heard a voice behind the cooler door singing the song, "Can't Keep My Hands to Myself." I looked behind me and around the store and closed the door. What a weird feeling to reach in for a drink and hear someone singing inside the cooler. It made me giggle!

U is for UNDERSTAND. Understand life is full of inconveniences, disappointment, and minor irritations. Learn to cultivate patience and don't let every little thing get on your nerves. Learning to manage your impatience will contribute to more joy. We all have to wait for things. Waiting in line, waiting at the doctor, waiting for slow drivers. Getting upset is not going to change the circumstances. No doubt this takes great self control. However, it's worth it so that you can preserve your joy and it minimizes your stress.

L is for LIFT. Lift someone's spirit. Send a card to someone just to make them smile. Show up with Starbucks for your co-worker. There are so many lonely people in the world. I recently read an article in Psychology Today. The article stated that we are in a lonliness epidemic. Insufficient social connection is a bigger risk factor than obesity and the health equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It goes on to say that lonliness causes serious hurt, acting on the same parts of the brain as physical pain. I found these facts astounding! Go through your phone contacts and see who you haven't talked to in awhile. Your call will make them smile and chance are, it will lift your spirit too!

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