Joy is a natural part of us, and we’re wired to feel it. If you’ve spent any time with a child, you’ve witnessed how much joy we’re capable of feeling. Sadly, many of us lose our sense of joy as we grow older. I have watched a child clap excitedly when a garbage truck drove by. How many of us can say we experience that kind of delight on a daily basis? But it is possible to find your joy and live it at any age; you just have to know how to.
What is joy?
The first step in finding and living your joy is knowing what joy means. Joy is an emotion “evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune” (Merriam-Webster). It is a feeling of “great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying” (dictionary.com). Other words for joy include bliss, jubilance, exultation, glee, and appreciation. You can recognize joy by the physical sensations it triggers, like buoyancy in your whole body, a tingling in your chest, an irrepressible smile on your face. Joy creates a positive excitement that uplifts and expands you.
Emotions are energy; their job is to attract your attention to what is going on inside yourself in the present moment, prompt you to make decisions and give you the fuel to act. Feeling a tingle of joy is an indication that you are in touch with your true self. That is why joy is an excellent barometer for making decisions and setting goals.
What you don’t need to find your joy
To find your joy, you have to forget other people’s notions of what you should want or love. If you have a long pattern of people-pleasing or are overly concerned about what others think, take this opportunity to leave that pattern behind. Your friends, parents, siblings, colleagues: They will all have opinions about what should bring you joy. Ignore them. What other people will say, what they might think, isn’t nearly as important as how you feel about your life.
You have to forget the beliefs about yourself that limit your goals. What you believe you can do has a massive impact on the goals you set, the course you follow, and what you achieve. As you pursue your joy, it’s essential to expose yourself to new, positive reference points that disrupt the limited thinking that makes you say to yourself, “Someone like me can’t do this.” Expand your expectations and craft a new vision of what is possible. Find new role models or decide that you will be a role model to someone else by living your joy.