Things don’t go the way we plan sometimes, and sometimes, they go exactly as we had planned, yet we don’t feel the way we expected. I guess that’s also a version of things not going according to plan.
The ironic luck in plans going awry is that this is where the most significant opportunities come from—opportunities to create joy. We can’t control what happens to us or around us, or really what happens at all. What we can control is our reaction to it. This makes sense considering many of us believe that our happiness is dependent on outside circumstances. Getting that new car, new job, going on a big vacation, planning a marriage, announcing a pregnancy.
Unfortunately, what happens to us is the most unstable thing in the world, mainly because it is continually changing.
The ultimate result of this consciousness is that we look at the present as either marred by something that has happened, something that shouldn’t have happened, or something that has not happened that should be happening. It’s pretty maddening when we look at it that way! So let’s try a “choosing how we react to it” consciousness on for size and look at things with a new lens. Being that we can choose what to pay attention to, we can also learn how to cultivate what we want to feel and how we want to experience everything.
And I think we’d all like to experience more joy, right?
The opportunity available to us in this month of Pisces is that we can draw joy and happiness to our entire year. Do we believe that we can be happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, four weeks of the month, and 12 months of the year? Like anything else, it takes practice. But you can begin by exploring and learning what helps you to feel a sense of joy and ease. Here are four of my favorite ways to practice cultivating joy every day. See if any of them spark joy for you too.
1. Get out of your routine.
Whether its a walk in nature, a guided meditation, or a day trip to a place you’ve always been curious about, doing something unique takes your brain out of its habitual state of being. Activities that stretch our perceptions and take us out of ordinary day-to-day life are a surefire way to spark joy. Engaging in prayer and stillness are two prominent ways to produce a feeling of serenity and joy but get creative. What are some ways you can get out of your routine and infuse joy into your day?
2. Find ways to play.
Activities that are not goal-oriented can be incredibly refreshing for our spirit. Dancing, going for a bike ride, playing fetch with your dog, or painting are all ways that we can activate our brain just for fun. These kinds of activities don’t have a specific purpose other than requiring focus, and this brings us beautifully into the present moment, which is precisely where joy resides. The trick here is to keep your brain from placing a “goal” on these activities. For example, if you catch yourself trying to “perfect,” your yoga pose bring yourself back into the present by focusing instead on how strong your body feels. In addition to bringing us into the present moment, science tells us that play helps to nurture our social skills, encourages silliness, and creates a sense of community. All of which brings us more joy.
3. Honor yourself consciously and frequently.
Joy doesn’t come from others; it comes from within. Often, we receive critical feedback, or when we have a difficult interaction with someone, we take on those negative opinions as fact. Interrupting negative thoughts about yourself and replacing them with statements that honor you instead is how you can cultivate your own joy. “I’m whole and complete.” “I did my best.” “I love myself.” Whenever you’re feeling judgment towards yourself, return to these statements.
4. Take a real break.
Studies have shown that the ability to spend time alone has been linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction, and improved stress management. People who enjoy alone time experience less depression. Whenever we spend intended time alone, we’re caring for ourselves, and this self-care is linked to greater feelings of joy. Schedule time to completely disconnect and do nothing. A block of time where you aren’t engaged in any responsibilities or duties of any kind. A time where you can be alone, disconnected from devices, and entirely focused on you. Get a massage. Close the door, put your feet up, and watch the world outside your window. Take a nap. We often become overly focused on our to-do list, on how much we’re producing, and on giving to other people. Taking time to give to and be with ourselves helps us to get in touch with our joy.
While the gift of Pisces is a sense of joy and wonder at simply being alive, the challenge presented by Pisces is getting stuck in victim consciousness. When we feel burnt out, judged, or unhappy, it can be easy to place blame on others, on circumstances, on the world. Where we place our attention is what will grow, so by shifting our perspective to one of joy, we create more experiences where we can feel and cultivate joy. The truth is that our happiness is our job. When we are out of alignment with joy, it is never someone else’s fault, it’s on us to reconnect to it. And Pisces arrives to help remind us that we can shift from negativity to joy in any moment.
What brings you joy? What helps you reconnect to happiness and peace on a bad day? Share your go-tos for joy in the comments.