Joy is more than just pleasure or contentment.
It’s happiness in action—being fully engaged with life. In other words, it’s seizing life and everything it has to offer.
And, at least for me, it’s something we all should strive for.
If you want to live a more joyful life, here are simple things you can do every day.
1) Don’t rush your mornings
A relaxed morning will have a cascading effect on the rest of your day, keeping you clear-minded and energized.
So wake up a bit earlier than you need to so that you don’t have to rush everything like a chicken with its head cut off.
And when you do wake, don’t check your email, messages, and socials right away no matter how tempting.
Instead, just take the moment to take a deep breath and enjoy the stillness of the morning.
2) Prioritize self-care
It’s unfortunate, but most of us don’t exactly prioritize self-care.
It’s last in the to-do list, with more “important” stuff like finishing work, buying groceries, and doing house repairs.
And it’s easy to understand why—these are things we simply can’t ignore or else we’d end up in trouble.
But don’t let that make you forget that we all need maintenance. We are the “machine” that does all of these things that we consider important and if we don’t take care of our mind and body, we’ll burn out.
And burnout is the opposite of joy.
So if you want to be joyful, take care of yourself…and don’t feel guilty for doing it.
3) Don’t bite more than you can chew
Know your limits. If your schedule is already full, then don’t say yes to another work commitment or an invitation to a night out.
While people like to say that where there’s a will there’s a way, the truth is that we all have our limitations.
You can be doing your best to keep as healthy and energized as you can be, but you are only human. And you cannot be joyful if you’re always tired, and even more so if you’ve been running yourself ragged just to please others.
4) Be truly present
When you’re eating, don’t think of anything else except your food. Enjoy its flavors and textures.
When you’re taking a shower, appreciate the sensation of water running down your skin and the sound of water hitting the floor.
You might be tempted to take this time to solve your many problems and plan for the future, but don’t. Take this time to enjoy life for what it is.
We can sometimes get so fixated on our problems that we simply fail to live in and enjoy the present.
Living in the present can make you become more appreciative of everything, which, as everyone knows, is the basic ingredient for a happy life.
5) Connect with others
We humans are a social species.
Even the most dedicated loners among us still need social interaction not to go insane.
You don’t exactly need to be close BFFs with the people you interact with. In fact, even if you don’t have your besties nearby, if you have some form of interaction with the people around you, you’ll be less lonely.
Things like saying hi to your neighbor, chatting with colleagues, and messaging an old classmate online is good enough.
Short but frequent interactions can make your life a little more joyful for relatively little effort.
A lot of people think that when you grow up, you should stop “wasting” your time on play and hobbies and instead be more concerned about adult stuff like work and paying bills.
But on the contrary, you simply can’t have a joyful life without play.
And when I say play I mean indulging whatever it is that you really enjoy doing.
So go experiment with something, go crazy with a hobby, get some crafting materials and “waste” your time on these fun things.
The more you incorporate play into your life, the more joyful you’ll become. It’s a guarantee.
7) Create something
Creativity is therapeutic, and the act of creating things—a painting, a short story, or what have you—goes a long way to making you feel like you’re actually living for something.
Sure, it may not be your ultimate life purpose, but it will give you the same kind of feeling anyways.
So go create something. Don’t worry so much if your drawing isn’t Museum-worthy or your poem isn’t going to be featured in a catalog.
What matters is that you are creating something.
8) Find your purpose
Creative pursuits might help you feel like you’re living for something, but even that is nothing compared to actually knowing and working towards your life purpose.
Having a strong sense of purpose is enough to make you feel more joyful every day.
It will be your answer to “Why am I put here on Earth?” or “Why am I alive today?”
And we humans, in general, just function a lot better when we have a goal we’re aiming for.
Don’t think you have to finish it all in one go, or that it’s a one and done thing. Finding and living out your life purpose is a journey that can take years or even decades. Simply knowing you have one is enough to make your life a little more joyful.
9) Take time to appreciate yourself
True joy isn’t found on the outside, but is something you draw out from deep within.
Take a moment each day to just enjoy and appreciate yourself. Learn to discover yourself and fall in love with who you are.
Thank your legs for always taking you to places, thank your hands for creating wonderful things… and of course, thank your heart and mind for guiding you to sensible decisions.
Your joyfulness starts within you, and you must learn to appreciate yourself first before you go outward.
10) Make a gratitude list
Make a list of the things you’re thankful for each day. And if you’re too tired to write them down, just simply thinking about them is enough.
Do this while you’re having dinner with your family or do it alone in your bedroom while you’re about to sleep.
It’s a good trick because it trains your eyes to look for the good things, instead of the negative ones. Turn this into a habit and you’ll be one of the most joyful people you know before the year ends.
11) See life as an adventure
We become more joyful, first and foremost, in our minds.
If you think life is all about proving to everyone your worth, you’ll end up miserable. You’ll work your ass off only to end up feeling unwanted.
But if you see life as an adventure—as a wonderful journey that’s full of surprises, then you’ll have a more joyful life. You’ll always be excited about what’s to come and you’ll see your troubles as just part of the ride.
12) Do things with people you love
Life is more joyful if you do things with your loved ones.
Start a project with your best friends, plan a trip with your family, or volunteer with your significant other.
And you know what can make things much better?
If you learn to love (or at least appreciate) the people you do things with. So the next time you’re with your colleagues, try to be a little nicer and see their good side.
13) Learn to enjoy your own company
If you don’t enjoy your own company, you’ll forever be restless. You’d keep messaging your friends asking to hang out, you’d always feel lonely whenever you’re alone.
But once you hit your 30s, friendships start to dwindle. And if you don’t enjoy your own company, you’ll start to get miserable.
Look, friends and lovers come and go. Even family, too. The person who’ll always be there until you die is…well, you.
So might as well turn yourself into your own best friend. Enjoy eating alone, enjoy staying in on a Friday night, enjoy sitting at a cafe all by yourself.
14) Think “The grass is greener where you water it”
Too many of us get so fixated on just how bad we have it that we like to imagine that life is simply better elsewhere.
And the thing is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. You can, however, make your patch of grass greener by appreciating it and watering it.
So when it feels like life is a bit too rough, sit down, take a deep breath, and think of all the good things that you have in life. Then start watering what you have.
Start where you are. Who knows, you’re exactly where you should be.
Learn to appreciate even the smallest blessings, and your life would be a lot more joyful.
15) Don’t sweat the small stuff
Whenever you find yourself getting mad over something, stop for a moment and think about whether that thing you’re getting angry about will still matter to you in six months…in six years…in six decades.
If it won’t, then it’s likely not worth getting mad over.
Sparing your energies for the things that actually do matter will help you to live a more joyful life.
So if you’re stressed, calm down and think “Will this really matter months from now?”, and if the answer is no, then chill!
Life is full of suffering. Responsibilities such as bills, work, family, and so much more occupy our daily lives.
You might think about these problems and think “I won’t have to worry about those if I were rich or healthier or more powerful.”
And yes, having all of those does mean a relatively stress-free life. But ease and joy are not the same.
In fact, a lot of rich people are actually quite miserable because they confuse their ease with joy. And there are a lot of people who’re not living comfortable lives but are actually joyful.
Joy is in appreciating the good in your life and accepting the bad. And that’s something you can have starting now.