Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness which is why it’s a word we constantly see and hear during the holidays. We see it on Christmas cards. We hear it in Christmas songs. It’s even written on wrapping paper. Most recently I was at a Christmas party and the word Joy was spread across the wall in large gold foil balloons. It was a great addition to the decor at the party.
While the holidays are filled with many festivities. It’s also important to take some time out for reflection during the hustle and bustle. How did we live this last year? And most importantly, what brought us joy and what didn’t? The things that didn’t bring us joy are the very things that we need to let go of in the new year.
Here are 10 things that I made a conscious effort to try and stop doing this past year. Some days were a struggle, but overall most of my effort paid off and in turn, it brought my life more joy. Life is all about progression. I wouldn’t have been able to grow and evolve this past year if I continued to live in a way that didn’t align with my core values. Your body, mind and intuition know exactly when something isn’t bringing joy into your life. My list of things might be different from the list of things that you might be working on in your life, however, at the end of the day, we all want the same thing; to live a happier, joyful existence.
1. Stop comparing
In order to feel more joy in my life this past year, I tried my hardest to refrain from comparisons. Although social media highlight reels can make this one a huge challenge, I always feel my best when I focus on my life, my goals, and most importantly my journey. The thing about comparisons is that they make you feel inferior, inadequate and they are damaging to your self-esteem. The best way to avoid comparisons is to shut off your phone and go and do something that makes you feel good. I love to run, read, hang out with my friends and write. Doing the things I love, feels better than sitting around trying to measure up to anybody else. One of my favorite quotes is , “Comparison is the thief of joy” In other words, don’t rob yourself of joy by comparing yourself to others.
2. Stop Gossiping
When we converse about others, even if it’s not to intentionally gossip, it’s still gossip. We are all guilty of this, and social media again doesn’t help, especially since we are constantly bombarded with what everyone is doing . There were a few conversations this past year that I walked away from feeling guilty about. This awful feeling in my core, was a reminder of how I didn’t want to feel anymore. Once I became more aware of this feeling, I began to try to avoid it as much as possible. The thing is, when you become more aware of something, it seems to pop up more than ever. I found myself in a few uncomfortable ‘gossiping’ situations. I decided to change the topic of conversation to avoid hearing what the latest “gossip” was. Changing the topic isn’t always easy, but it feels a heck of a lot better than engaging in the topic of other people’s lives. Gossip never results in feelings of joy. It actually makes you feel the complete opposite. Engaging in conversations however, which are based on your own life’s circumstances, and other interesting topics (that aren’t other people) lead to feelings of mutual respect, and trust for the people you are communicating with. You can also learn so many new and interesting things when you are having a conversation that gives you a natural high. Gossiping gives you a low. Meaningful conversations, create connections and are very beneficial to our personal growth.
3. Stop staying comfortable
This past year I faced many fears. I realize that if I allow fear to take over, then I’m the only person standing in my way. The thing about fear is that it is the very thing that we need to face, to grow. I can definitely say that this year was a big year of growth for me. The only way I could grow was to get uncomfortable. So, if there’s something that scares you, and makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, it’s probably a good thing. You will be amazed at the joy you will feel after you get over your fear and stop holding yourself back.
4. Stop trying to be perfect
Perfectionism never results in true feelings of joy. Trust me, I’ve been there. And some days, my old perfectionist ways try to creep their way back into my life. Unfortunately, when you try to keep up a perfect image, other people can actually see through it. You can’t truly be your authentic self, when you are trying to look, and act perfect. However, when you show people who you really are, flaws and all, you break free from being a prisoner of perfection. This new sense of freedom makes you feel as light as a feather and allows you to live a more joyful, authentic life.
You know that feeling of waiting for an apology you didn’t receive? Well, it’s a feeling that lingers and it’s not a joyful one. When we allow ourselves to forgive others, we make room in our hearts for happiness and joy. Most importantly, when we forgive ourselves for our own past mistakes, we make room in our hearts to love ourselves and move forward. This past year I forgave myself for many mistakes, and when I made new mistakes, I took immediate steps to correct them.
6. Stop being close minded
A life of joy, is a life filled with experience. We can’t however enrich our lives with new experiences if we aren’t willing to open up our minds. This past year I opened my mind to many new people and experiences. As a result, I expanded my network, and made new friends. I joined a book club, I signed up for my first half marathon, I attended a goddess event (which was amazing) and many other events, sometimes alone too. I even saw a ballet! All of these experiences that I opened my mind to, have brought joy into my life.
7. Stop telling yourself you’re not enough
This past year I was involved in a very moving campaign called I am Enough. It was a collaboration with Nicole Bridger and Raw Beauty Talks where I had to get raw and vulnerable in front of the camera for a video campaign. The whole experience was so liberating and taught me that our thoughts of ‘ not enough’ inhibit us from feelings of joy. When we constantly tell ourselves that we aren’t smart enough, skinny enough, talented enough, (the list could go on and on) it holds us back from reaching our full potential. These self-limiting beliefs of ‘not enough’, can be changed to ‘I am enough’. This past year and moving into the new year, I remind myself that ‘I am enough’, simply because I’m alive! Now that’s a joyful feeling!
8. Stop taking things personal and making assumptions
A couple of years ago, I read a book titled, The Four Agreements. This book changed my life. I went from taking everything personal to the realization that whatever someone else does in actuality has nothing to do with me. It’s simply a reflection of their own ‘stuff’ . It’s a joyous feeling when we begin to release this egocentric, narcissistic everything’s about ‘me’ mind-set. When we begin to stop taking other people’s actions personal, we begin to stop making assumptions about their actions.
9. Stop having unrealistic expectations
We rarely feel joy when we set ourselves up with unrealistic expectations. And it’s especially hard to feel joy when we expect things from others. The reality is no one owes us anything. In fact, we owe it to ourselves to let go of that notion. I wanted to support many people this year with the things that they were doing because I felt so incredibly inspired by their actions. It’s such a joyous feeling when you give of yourself in this way without any expectation attached. The moment you stop expecting is the moment you start receiving!
10. Stop worrying what other people think
When we worry what other people might think of us, we hold back from being our true selves. This past year when I started this personal blog, I began to write for the sake of sharing my voice, and opinion. Not everyone will agree with the things I write. And I’m ok with that. If I worried what readers might think of a post, I wouldn’t be able to blog authentically and truthfully. I am following my passion and doing what I love, some days it brings joy and other days I feel completely technically challenged. However, if I didn’t follow my passion this year, I would have never experienced all the joy that I did. The feeling of staying true to who you are, in a world that wants you to fit in, conform and be like everyone else, is absolutely a feeling of immense joy.
I hope you reflect on the things that brought you joy this year. When we take time out for self reflection we become more aware. This awareness helps us grow, evolve and change the things about ourselves that inhibit us from joy. When we choose to live a joyful life, it makes us feel good. When we feel good, we want to do good. And when we do good, hopefully it inspires others to do the same.
This was a photo taken at a Christmas party I attended on the weekend. It’s my favorite! While we were trying to get the perfect group shot with the JOY foil balloons, they became tangled, we were laughing, and no one was posing. This photo in my opinion illustrates the joy we had that night. It was a perfectly, imperfect moment. These are the REAL life moments that enrich our lives with joy.
Photo courtesy of EFraser photograhy
Happy Holidays Friends! Hope they’re enjoyable!!!