Joy is a level above happiness. It’s fulfillment on top of happiness, triumph on top of happiness, elation on top of happiness. Happy is how you feel when you watch a funny movie. Joy is how you feel when you’re living life to your fullest potential and realizing your dreams. If you haven’t yet, please read my post “Finding Your Joy.” Today, we’re going to focus on living your joy.

The Architecture of a Joy-Filled Life

The first step to living your joy is to build a life that can support your dreams. You need the architecture your life is built on to be in sync with your values and desires. For you to thrive, the foundation of your dreams must be strong.

So, what makes up your life’s structure? From your thoughts to your choices to your actions, the architecture of your life is everything your life is built on. It includes everything about you: your mindset, childhood experiences, genetics, behavior patterns, routines, and habits. It includes your relationships––or lack thereof––and the ability of those relationships to nurture and support you. Finally, it’s how much you’re living in the past versus fully in the present.

A good place to start when trying to build a life that can support your dreams is to look at the small, seemingly insignificant decisions you make throughout your day. You may not carefully choose between the healthy oatmeal or the French toast with bacon, but the result of that breakfast decision can affect how much you accomplish that day.

For one day, keep a record of the choices you make and whether that choice made your structure feel stronger, weaker, or didn’t change it. For example, “I ate French toast for breakfast” made your architecture feel weaker because you experienced a sugar crash midday, but “I took a 10-minute walk with my dog after lunch” made your foundation feel stronger because it gave you an energy boost. At the day’s end, look over your results and make small alterations for the next day. Then, try the exercise again. Over time, you should start to build a life more suited to holding up your dreams.

Evaluating Your Joy

Now that you’re starting to build a life that can support your joy, it’s time to evaluate where your joy is coming from and where it is absent. That way, you can spend more time doing the activities that bring you the most joy and phase out the activities that bring you less of it.

Take a blank piece of paper and list the activities that represent how you spend your time down the side of the page, then write the numbers 1 to 10 across the top. Now rate your level of joy for each activity, with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest. For example, you may rate “Answering work emails” a 3 in its ability to bring you joy and “Going to the gym” gets a 5, but you give “Tending to my garden” an 8 and “Adding recipes to my food blog” a 9.