This week on Live Meaningful, we are doing a Joy inventory. So, part of experiencing joy, is having gratitude, which I talked about a couple weeks ago. But honestly, there are many, many forms that joy takes and can show up in our life. Sometimes joy shows up unexpectedly and naturally, when we least expect it. But sometimes we need to make the effort to invite joy into our lives.
You don’t need to force it. In fact, joy is not something that can probably be forced. But you may need to step out, and invite.
Listed below are some forms of joy and happiness that are gifts for us to experience in this life. Grab your journal and begin the inventory. I will be asking questions about how you already invite these forms of joy into your life, in what ways they show up, and encourage you to reflect on how you can invite them into your life just a little bit more!
In what ways does peacefulness show up in your life already? What brings you a sense of peace or calm? What relaxes the mind and eases the stresses of life?
Do you gain peace on a walk in nature, hearing the birds chirp and feeling the cool breeze on your face? Do you feel peace when you take a warm bath after a long day at work? Do you experience peace through journaling and sorting through your many thoughts? Is peace found in spending time with those you love? Or is it found in reading an uplifting and encouraging book?
Take an honest assessment of how peace shows up in your life currently, what activities lead you to a state of peacefulness, and how often you allow yourself to engage in these activities. Do you need to allow more peace into your life? More time for relaxation? More time to de-stress? Life can be busy, but where are the little pockets of life in which you could place more peace?
How is excitement showing up in your life? What activities make you feel excited? What is the excitement that will get you out of bed in the morning or keeps you chugging along in the week?
Is it working on a book you are writing? Is it a love for travel and the anticipation of your next trip? Is it a gathering with friends? Is it a creative project you just love?
We were meant to feel excitement in life. To feel excited to wake up in the morning and feel excited for days ahead of us. If life feels dull or stagnant, consider what makes you feel excited and find the spaces in your life where you can allow excitement.
In what ways can you invite more fun into your life? Of course, we are adults and have responsibilities, but just as we make time for respsonsibilities, we also need to make time for fun. The kind of fun that is carefree and makes us feel like a child again. We need to engage in play.
What is it for you? Is it a girls’ night with all your friends full of excessive laughter? Is it going for a bike ride? Is it playing with your kids? Going to a festival? Try to access your inner child to help you remember what fun means to you.
Fun can be anything. Maybe you find things fun that others would not understand as fun. That’s okay! Be honest about what is fun for you, rather than other people’s definitions of fun.
How much fun do you allow into your life currently? Where do you need to add fun to your life and how will you do this?
What completely engages your mind? What could you talk about all day? What could you research for hours, and still be wanting more? What engages your mind and immerses you so completely?
Is it an interest in psychology? Art? Movies? Science?
Find your interest and allow yourself to get lost in it.
Or as Elizabeth Gilbert would say, “follow your curiosity.”
There is no joy in standing still, we were meant to grow. How are you growing in your life currently? What are you progressing toward? How are you changing for the better?
What helps you experience growth? Is it through church? A podcast? Journaling? A book? A mentor? A class?
How can you experience more growth in your life? Which of the above examples could be something you could implement in your life to experience more of a sense of growth? What could you do that would propel you forward into a new version of yourself and your life?
Are you allowing enough adventure in your life? Is there any adventure at all?
What would adventure be to you? Traveling to somewhere new and exploring? Going on a mission trip? Writing a book or a blog? Meeting new people? Hiking?
What is your version of adventure? Is it in your life currently? Why not? How could you put more adventure into your life?
Where do you find a sense of purpose in your life? Is it being a mom to your children or an aunt to your nieces or nephews? Are you a role model? Are you a mentor to someone? Do you share your wisdom with others? Are you a teacher of some sort? Do you volunteer somewhere? Do you help others in some way?
What makes your life feel like it has purpose? Is there something you could be doing to give yourself more of a sense of purpose?
What lights you up and makes you feel totally alive? What can you not get enough of? What, when doing it, makes life feel meaningful. What do you absolutely love to do?
Is it art, photography, or writing? Is it a creative pursuit of some sort? Is it helping others? Is it travel?
Identify that passion and make sure that you are making time for it.
In what ways do you experience a sense of discovery? The “aha!” moments of life.
Is it while you journal? Is it taking a class and learning something new?
What does discovery mean to you? Is it in your life? How could it become more a part of your life?
Life can become very practical and very day to day, and sometimes that causes us to forget there is such a thing as amazement and wonder. When have you had this feeling before? When was that last time you had it?
Looking up at the stars in the night sky? Looking at the ocean? Traveling to another country?
It is those moments, when you take a step back from the everyday tasks, and see what a miracle life really is.
How often do you have these moments? How could you invite more moments like this into your life?
One of the truest forms of joy, is the experience of being known completely. Being known and appreciated as your truest self.
Maybe you have this with your partner? Your best friend? At your job? At your church?
If you don’t feel you have a place where you can be authentic, and “known,” go on a search to find this place. Find your tribe. Where could you find the people who might be similar to you? Where might be a place where your authentic self could show up and be appreciated?
How are you on a quest in your life? What is your mission? What is this journey you are on? A quest for knowledge or wisdom? A quest to help others? A quest of self discovery? A quest of self-improvement? A quest to share your gifts in the world?
If your life does not feel like a quest or a journey, how could you make it feel a little bit more like this? Is it a shift in your perspective or a shift in how you live your life?
What forms of pleasure do you allow into your life? Is it that warm bath after a long day at work? It is allowing yourself to eat your favorite ice cream every once in awhile? Is allowing yourself to sleep in? Is it spending all day in the sun and forgetting about responsibilities for awhile? Is it getting lost in a book and reading for hours?
Sometimes pleasure sounds like a bad thing or sounds overly self-indulgent. It is only a bad thing in excess. And honestly, pleasure stops being pleasure if you do it in excess. But, we should all be able to allow a little bit of pleasure into our life.
We were designed to create.
In what ways are you inviting creativity into your life? Do you allow space in your life for the creative process? What kind of creativity calls out to you? Writing? Art? Photography? Cooking?
Find your creative passion and allow space in your life to express yourself and engage this creative side of you.
Although it is important to allow for pleasure and self-care, we must not forget about kindness. There is great joy in kindness. Helping a friend work through a problem. Helping someone in need. Donating to a cause you care about. Volunteering at a homeless shelter.
How are you experiencing the joy of kindness? How could you experience it more?
As I said, there is a whole article on gratitude from a couple weeks ago, but it is so important, I could not leave it off this list.
How are you practicing gratitude? How are you making sure to be thankful for the everyday moments of your life? How could you develop your gratitude skills and experience it more in your daily life?
As you can see, there are many ways to experience joy in this life, and this list could go on. Sometimes we chase after big life changes to add more joy in our lives. This is not a bad thing, but sometimes big life changes aren’t always possible. The good news is, by taking this joy inventory you can reflect on your everyday life and be intentional about creating more joy filled moments.
Joy can be found in the margins of life. There are a million tiny little moments in our life, but these little tiny moments make up our whole lives. Why not fill these moments with joy?