8 steps to living a joyful life

8 Simple Steps to Joyful Living

Have you ever associated joyful living with your achievements, i.e. “when I achieve something, only then shall I be happy”? You’re not alone. This manner of thinking is also known as the “if-then” model. You are probably already aware of the pitfalls of this thought process: it makes us dependent on the outcomes of a situation.

To be living joyfully, one has to recognise and find their happiness in the daily aspects of life. Now, how do I do that, you may ask? In this article, you will find 8 tips for building a joyful life from within. They are easy to implement and can help you achieve that state of bliss which we all pursue so dearly.

Step 1 to Joyful Living: Practice Kindness 

It’s probably no surprise that kindness is the first quality on this list. When our actions convey kindness, we automatically spread joy to others. Moreover, the kindness we spread makes us feel good about ourselves too, thereby making us feel blissful from within.

If you are wondering which actions spread kindness, think of the last time you donated food to a homeless person. How did they respond? How did that act of kindness make you feel? If it brought the both of you joy, then you know that this bit of advice works.

Step 2: Practice Empathy

Empathy is an underrated quality that’s often left out of the joyful living equation. In essence, it means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand what they are going through, and basing your actions on their feelings and perspectives. The Greater Good Science Centre at UC Berkeley describes it as a habit we can cultivate to improve our quality of life, and actually claims that we have an empathy circuit in our brain.

Practicing empathy involves active listening, sharing in other people’s feelings and looking for commonalities with others. Empathy helps with building deep, and strong relationships, which in the end, can lead to joy.  

Step 3: Add Humility

Humility allows you to accept yourself fully, without having to hide your faults or mistakes. It also cultivates the willingness to learn from our mistakes, listen to others and become approachable. The first step to develop this quality is by detaching your self-worth from your mistakes. When you accept that your mistakes don’t define you or make you a bad person, you can actually learn from them.

Being compassionate and non-judgmental towards yourself is another part of humility. This is where true growth happens, as you can easily identify what’s holding you back by giving yourself the time and space required for introspection. Lastly, being thankful is another quality of humble people.

They know who and what helped them get where they are today, and they are not shy to express this gratitude. When you practice humility, you are not living up to anyone’s expectations of you, and you have no need to prove yourself to society, which makes life easier. An easier life, is often a happier life.

Step 4: Build Integrity

In general, integrity comes down to living the moral values you stand for, being consistent and practising what you preach, especially when no one is looking. Suppose you claim that you treat everyone fairly and you regularly participate in equality debates, but one day a friend notices that you actually treat your own employees with contempt.

That would be the opposite of integrity, wouldn’t it? So, how can integrity make us joyful? When there is no discrepancy between what we say and what we do, our mind is at peace and we live in harmony. When we can be our authentic, consistent and moral-abiding selves, we are more likely to be in a joyful state.

Step 5: Pursue Your Passion

Joyful living comes from pursuing what moves us, i.e. our passions. If you are not sure what your passion is, try exploring a new area of interest, e.g. if you are good with numbers, you could try an accounting class. You never know if something could be your passion until you give it a try.

Once you find the things you are passionate about, be sure to pursue them with consistency and determination. When we have something that excites us and gives us purpose, be it work, hobbies, relationships or ideally a combination of these three aspects, our joys in life tend to increase.

Step 6: Build Trust

People usually find reasons to not trust others, mostly because they live in fear. Their fearful mindset prohibits them from forming deep, meaningful relationships both at work and in social life. Of course, there will be some people who will misuse your trust, but not everyone is the same.

There are many who will maintain it and foster mutual trust in you. The key with trust is starting small. Suppose you hired a new cleaner for your home and you want to build trust in them. Instead of following them around the whole day, try delegating a few tasks to them and see how they perform e.g., give them some cash to buy groceries one day, and two weeks later, you can try leaving them the house whilst you head out.

If they perform well, you can eventually give them the house keys, so that they can let themselves in to work when you are away. Remember, trust is a two-way street. You need to give it to receive it, so ensure that your behaviour demonstrates trust as well. When we can trust people, our mind doesn’t think of worst-case scenarios and brings us peace and joy from within.

Step 7: Cultivate Awareness

True awareness actually happens on many levels, i.e. in thought, sight, breath, actions and speech. If you were to wake up every day to overwhelming news on the TV e.g., your subconscious mind would take this information and make you fearful, upset and negative. You could then develop a fear-based-mindset, whereby you think the world is cruel, harmful and rough.

Your thoughts become words, and words become actions, so your speech will start to tell others about what you saw. You might not even know the gravity of what you are consuming, let alone spreading. In this regard, it is important to become aware of what we consume, think, say and do.

Meditation is known to help with raising awareness, but reading self-help books, learning about other cultures, psychology and sociology will also help us become aware, by realising that the world exists outside of our own thought-process and belief systems. We can then critically assess the following: are we harming ourselves or others with our thoughts, actions or words?

Are we spreading the good, or are we judgmental of each and every thing, including ourselves? Once we can let go of our judgments and become more mindful, we become more aware. With awareness, in turn, we can perceive the world as a joyful place to live.

Step 8: Practice Discernment

In life, we may get a whole host of opinions, advice and suggestions from those around us. While it is easy to follow these blindly, it is better to do what is suited to your own situation at all times. Suppose you don’t agree with some traditions in your community, but you are always told by family members that “it is THE way to do it”.

You know for a fact that following this advice makes you uncomfortable and unhappy. You can, however, take actions based on how you want to feel by critically assessing if their advice is suited to your own conditions, the situation you are in and more importantly, if it respects your own boundaries.

The latter is extremely important for joyful living, as healthy boundaries help us feel at rest and at ease with ourselves and the people around us. Regardless of the situation we are in, we can set boundaries by learning to say “No”. Remember, you are always responsible for the choices you make. Will you choose your happiness?

I originally wrote this article in Dutch for WOmagazine. You can read it HERE.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *