10 Ways to Cultivate Joy– Episode 424

It’s 1998, I’m living in Tucson Arizona and I’m not happy. My girlfriend and I were having major problems with each other and were soon to break up. Money was really tight, and to top it off, someone broke into the house I was living in and stole my stereo and the guitar that my parents had given to me for my high school graduation in 1978.

The two things that made me the happiest, my guitar and my stereo, were gone and everything looked very bleak. This went on for a while until I decided to use my JC Penney credit card and buy a Sony Discman with some headphones. I went straight to the campus of the University of Arizona, sat on a shady bench and listened to Mozart. I sat there with my eyes closed with bliss, contentment, and delight. I was feeling joy for the first time in a long time, and it felt good. Things got better for me immediately.

There are plenty of articles online about how to find joy. However, joy is not something you go looking for. Like a garden, it’s something you must cultivate and continue to work on so that joy becomes a regular part of your life.

Maybe you can remember being a child and feeling the lightness of joy as you played and jumped and ran and laughed. I remember as a child running through the sprinkler in my back yard with my brothers singing supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with wild abandon.

We felt it in our bodies, we were present with the amazing feeling of being alive and we expressed it through movement, singing, being silly, laughing.

But of course, we grow up, we become burdened with responsibilities and worries, and we lose the lightness. We don’t really lose it, we lose the time to cultivate it which as adults, I believe we must do as a regular part of our self-care.

When we feel joy, everything is right with the world. We feel safe, confident, fulfilled and loved by the universe. Do you think that’s good for our health? Of course, it is.

Can you feel joy even when you are not happy? Yes, because they are two different things. Happiness comes from the pleasurable feelings we have when we are excited or satisfied with situations, things, or an experience. Joy, however, is longer lasting, with feelings of contentment, fulfillment and peace. It can be cultivated even when there are circumstances going on in your life that are not making you happy, such as my ability to find some joy even in the midst of great uncertainty with my relationship and the loss of my property.  So going with the idea of cultivation, happiness is a vase of flowers, while joy is your garden of beautiful flowers.

Here are 10 ways to cultivate more joy in your life, while acknowledging that there are many more ways for you to figure out on your own.

  1. Physical activity. But you knew that right? Moving your body releases neurotransmitters that make you feel good. In my view, this is the fertile soil for cultivating joy.
  2. Get outside. Even sitting in a chair watching the clouds or the rain or listening to the birds can be joyful. Cultivate being present to the miracle of the natural world. It’s our birthright and our home.
  3. Practice gratitude. If your focus is on what you lack and what’s going wrong in your life, you are focused on the weeds that grow in your flower garden. If you look for things to be grateful for, you will find them. In your garden of joy, gratitude is the sunshine that illuminates what’s beautiful.
  4. Self-Care. It’s hard to feel joyful if you are not taking good care of your body and your mind. This might mean taking more breaks or even vacations, making more time for relaxation, meditation, or prayer, or paying more attention to your diet. Make time to do the things that you enjoy doing such as your favorite interests or hobbies. Most importantly, get good sleep for God’s sake.
  5. Create daily positive rituals. Let’s see, how about a daily walk, jog or bike ride outside while practicing gratitude. Wow, that covers half my list right there all at once! Establish a morning routine that gets you in the right mindset, create a daily habit of yoga, stretching, reading, or making art or music. These are the kinds of things that if done consistently, can change your life and create more consistent abiding joy.
  6. Dance, sing, play games, take that dusty motorcycle or bike out for a ride. Or pick up that dusty guitar or dust off the piano. Board games, card games, chess. I played Scrabble with my mom recently for hours. See if you can bring back that feeling of being lost joyfully in the moment that we were able to do so well as children.
  7. Do something different and new. Novelty is the cure for stuckness. Take on a new hobby, start reading a new book, take a class, learn an instrument or new skill that you can master. Challenge yourself to grow and learn. Cultivating joy requires flow and bringing in new energy.
  8. Spend time with positive people. Who you spend time with can be incredibly impactful. Avoid as much as possible spending time with complainers or folks that bring you down. Instead hang out with people that are upbeat and positive, people that smile, laugh and listen. This is one of the most joyful things we can do as humans: social interaction.
  9. Deal with the past. Regret, sadness, shame, and depression can be heavy burdens that make it hard to be joyful. Have the intention that you are going to let go of the past and be free from its negative impact. If you need to cry or feel sad or lonely then do that but don’t live there. Cultivate hope and faith that things will get better. If you need to talk to a therapist, make that happen. Many, many people have overcome the pain of the past to live a more joyful life. You can too.
  10. Give back. I say that the reason for living is giving. Find a way to help someone else. Volunteer. Donate time, money or a skill to your favorite cause or charity. Giving back could even mean showing kindness or doing something nice for someone. You’ll feel good and that’s good for you. It means you stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about someone else.


There you go. 10 ways to cultivate joy in your life. Let me give you one more as a bonus: Find a sense of purpose or meaning for your life. There will only be one you and you bring something to the table that nobody else can. What do you want to be remembered for? What unique contribution do you want to make? Why were you put here on this earth? You may not find an immediate answer to these questions but it’s the asking of the questions that matters. Keep asking and seeking to uncover your reason for being here.

Here’s today’s quote: “It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.” British novelist Amelia Barr

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If I can help you to cultivate more joy in your life, feel free to request a complimentary consultation at https://tedmoreno.com/contact. We’ll talk about what’s keeping you from joy or happiness, I’ll answer any questions you have, and explore if working together is the best path forward for you.