This summer, embrace joy in the moment

Spring is nibbling away at the cold corners of winter today. I don’t know about you, but the newly warm days and the sound of birdsong always give me a renewed sense of hope and energy, and I look forward to each day with fresh purpose and joy. The words of writer, Iris Murdoch, hold the key.

While we live in stressful times, there is much serenity to be won back by recognising that much is out of our control, and we are responsible for creating our own happiness, even within challenging circumstances.
Easier said than done? Of course, especially when we are facing challenging circumstances. Here are some useful and very do-able tips that I have come across in my reading, and are applying now.

1. Happiness is a choice

Without ignoring the realities of life, you can choose to include those things in your life that give you joy. Is it chats with friends over a meal? Could it be a creative process, like painting or baking or dancing or writing? Is it sinking your hands into the soil and enjoying the colourful and fragrant result of your labours? Might it be that time that you spend in your community, helping those less fortunate?

Do you need to exclude those things that cause you unhappiness? For me, it is replaying past failures in my head, and rather allowing myself imperfections. For you, it may be relinquishing the longing for a different life than the one you have right now. Possibly, it is making peace with loss of some kind.

Give yourself permission to take that nap, to have that glass of wine, to go for that spa treatment, to have a day with no other purpose but to read your book, to take photographs that aren’t perfect.

2. Know that tomorrow is not guaranteed – make the time

We have seen clients who, working hard in their careers still, put all their dreams on hold “until retirement”. So, no long vacations, limited evenings out, snatched times together or with friends and family. Yes, they longed for more fun, more meaningful social times, less stress and squeezing as much productivity out of a day as possible. The garden could wait. That birthday celebration would be for another landmark occasion. The visit to overseas family will happen when finances are healthier.

And, then, life intruded. A negative diagnosis, increasingly limited physical capacity, a retrenchment, a divorce, a loss of a friend or family member, a child returning home and finances being constrained … and that resolve to live a full life quakes in the face of these spectres.

Choose happiness now … even in smaller bites.

3. Decide what really matters

As an adjunct to the first point, deciding what matters means that you live in line with your values.

Does your friend’s perceived better life – a renovated home, family close by, a seaside cottage, frequent exotic travels, a kinder spouse, greater financial freedom – really have to translate into discontent for you? Whom are you choosing to compare yourself with?

Could you choose gratitude instead?

Perhaps now is the day to start that gratitude journal.

Today, sit in your garden, take your gratitude journal and let go of self-judgement as you write … no should haves, no musts, no I wish …

Then, based on your values, where are you going to send your thoughts each time you feel any emotions that draw you away from joy?

It’s a life of no regrets you are aiming for … and days of joy.

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