We likely all know the adage that when life gives us lemons, we’re simply supposed to make lemonade. If you don’t feel like you have any sugar or water, though, making lemonade is a pretty tall order. The truth is that we can find joy in the everyday of life, but only if we want to.
Here are six ways to help us on our path to experiencing happiness daily.
1. Be grateful for everything you have
When you don’t take time to appreciate your blessings, life can feel a whole lot harder than it actually is. Pity parties are all about what you don’t have going for you, but you can change the way you feel by simply naming your blessings instead of your problems. If you don’t take anything for granted, you’re sure to have joy everyday.
Try it out for yourself. Since your alarm clock went off at the right time, you have a great start to the morning even if you didn’t get in as much sleep as you wanted to. Since your fridge kept your milk properly cold overnight, your oatmeal is a success even if you’d rather be eating something more luxurious. Since your car started just fine, you got to work on time even if your means of transportation isn’t the most stylish option available. Do you see that: it’s barely nine o’clock in the morning and your gratitude jar can already be full for the day.
Even in the midst of unemployment, health challenges, breakups and other setbacks, we can always find components of life to be thankful for. One of my favorite quotations of all time comes from a newspaper columnist named Jenkin Lloyd Jones who explained:
Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . . Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.
2. Take care of your body
One of the most efficient ways to help you on your journey to happiness is keeping your health intact so that your options are open. When you’re burdened down by preventable diseases and conditions, you’re inviting suffering into your life that is actually avoidable. Eat right, exercise and take the steps you need to take in order to improve your health. Avoid habits like smoking and drinking that limit your agency and keep you addicted and not in control. Go to sleep when you should so that you can wake up feeling rested and ready for the day. Eat a healthy breakfast and take time throughout the day for your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
There are plenty of health challenges that aren’t in your control so do your best and learn to deal with the conditions that you can’t fully prevent or treat. Even if you suffer from certain diseases and ailments, be willing to work with your doctor and do what you can in order to minimize the associated symptoms that come from your circumstances. Remember to be appreciative for the physical possibilities you do have rather than overwhelmed by the functions that you no longer readily possess.
3. Do something selfless each day
For many, the key to experiencing joy is to actually lose ourselves in service. No matter how bad things are, you can always find a way to lift others up. Even if time is limited and money is tight, we all have something to offer. Exchanging a kind word pleasantry with the cashier at the grocery store, holding the door open for a mom pushing a stroller or picking up a piece of paper that someone else dropped in the hallway are all examples of free and easy ways to show compassion for someone else.
When we feel weighed down by life, it’s easy to come up with excuses for why we can’t help out other people, but the biggest victim of selfishness is generally the individual herself who displays such a character trait. When I take the time to look around me and find a way to serve, even though the intent is to help someone else, I still tend to be the biggest benefactor from the experience because of how good it makes me feel when in the service of others. Give, serve and love–these are the ways to find joy everyday.
4. Do what you love and love what you do
No, most of us won’t ever find a dream job that pays us for sleeping in, playing video games and eating chocolate, but you can develop a positive attitude about life that will help you identify enjoyable traits about any circumstance. Analyze your job and personal life to identify what components you really do enjoy. Maybe you actually like the computations involved in budgeting, the act of cleaning dishes and using a copier machine. Just because an activity is classified as work or a chore doesn’t mean you can’t individually recognize the task as a treat.
Even when you’re charged with carrying out tasks you really don’t like to do, see the responsibilities for what they’re worth. An individual assignment at work may not be pleasant, but getting a paycheck is a real joy and blessing. Similarly, taking out the trash and recyclables may not be your idea of a good time, but you can respect the need to do so because you love activities like eating, shopping and getting packages in the mail, which can each produce byproducts that need to go in the trash. Learn to love what you do.
5. Make friends with the past
If you’ve experienced some traumatic situations in your life it’s time to close that chapter by saying to yourself: I have peace with my past. We can’t change our past but we can define ourselves who we are in the present by leaving our past behind. In principle, there’s nothing wrong with having memories of the past but being emotionally attached to past events is a habit that won’t ever let you find peace, happiness and joy. If you want to live a beautiful life, making friends with your past is absolutely essential.
6. Choose to be happy
When it all comes down to it, there’s only one thing that prevents you from finding joy in everyday life and that one thing is you. The spiritual leader Dieter F. Uchtdorf has reminded:
It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.
Regardless of your circumstances, you can choose to be happy. Even if you can’t think of anything in particular to be be thankful for or happy about, you still have the final say concerning your attitude and outlook. If you want to be joyful, you can be joyful so use your agency accordingly.