How To Feel Joy – Why Joy is The Secret Key for Optimal Health
We are all focused on how many tasks we can stuff into our day. Your schedule may be filled with work meetings, picking up dry cleaning, stopping by a supermarket, and chores. But there’s one thing we always forget to schedule – joy.
The thing is, you may be missing out on joyful moments in your life because you’re on autopilot.
What if I told you sparing some time to appreciate joy can make you happier and healthier?
It may be unfamiliar to hear joy can change your health. The fact is, health is more than just eating well and exercising.
Do you want to start inviting joy into your life to be healthier, happier, and feel more grounded?
We will look into the tremendous health benefits of joy, and I will share 4 ideas so that you can start noticing the joyful moments you ALREADY have.
Ready to go?
Let’s do it!
What is joy?
When you think about joy, what do you see?
Maybe you think about when your friends celebrated your birthday, or when you received presents from your partner.
How about you taking some time for meditation in the morning or spending some time on your hobbies?
Do you see any differences between the two examples?
The difference is if you receive something from others, it’s happening externally, and it’s a pleasure, NOT a joy.
On the other hand, joy comes internally. It comes from deep inside yourself. Then, what’s the difference between joy and happiness?
What is the difference between joy and happiness?
Isn’t it confusing to distinguish between happiness and joy? I had a difficult time putting it into words and found the perfect explanation for you.
An architect-designer Ingrid Fetell Lee, said in The Atlantic interview,
Unlike happiness, joy is momentary and small-scale: It comes from an intense, momentary feeling of positive emotion. […] “little moments that make us feel more alive.” Over time, those small moments are what lead to happiness.
AH! It makes sense! So joy is momentum and the sequence of joy is happiness! The thing is, when things are challenging, we tend to go for habits like shopping, eating, or drinking.
However, those may not be financially, physically, and mentally healthy for you.
Do you want to learn the benefits of feeling more joy for your health and be happier?
Why is joy important for your health?
What do you think are the most important things to stay healthy?
Exercise? Eating well?
Everyone knows exercising regularly and eating well are the keys to health. What if I told you there are more important things than what you eat?
I learned an eye-opening concept called “Primary Food” at the school where I’m training to be a Health Coach.
What’s “Primary Food”? Primary food includes:
- Fulfilling Career
- Financial Health
- Home Cooking
- Home Environment
- Social life
- Physical activity
In fact, the founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition calls the food “Secondary food.”
Why is that?
He explains what holistic health means to him:
“You could be eating all the kale and broccoli in the world, but if you’re not nourishing yourself on a holistic level, you will not feel vibrant.”
Doesn’t it actually make sense?
You can eat all kinds of healthy foods, but if you have a super stressful job you hate or are in an unhappy relationship, healthy foods may not help your health as much as you want.
That’s why I want to talk about JOY today. I want you to remember before you continue reading this post.
Health is a lifetime journey. It’s not about perfection.
The great thing is, you are already here on my blog, reading this post because you want to be healthy! You’re doing great!!!
So today, let’s take a look at one of the most important areas in Primary food, “Joy”, to learn the health benefits of joy and how you can increase joy in your daily life!
The health benefits of joy
1. Feeling more joy protects your heart
Did you know joy and your heart health are connected?
The fact is, feeling more joy can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Overall, if you have more joyful moments in daily life, you can lower the risk of developing heart disease!
In 2010, 2,000 Canadians were invited to a study and were asked to express anger and stress at work.
Researchers rated them on a scale of 1 to 10 based on how many positive emotions were expressed including joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, and contentment.
Can you guess what happened to the ones who expressed happy emotions?
Researchers found out happier ones were less likely to have developed coronary heart disease.
Interestingly, for participants who expressed more positive emotions, risks for heart disease were 22 percent lower than those who didn’t!
2. Joy can strengthen your immune system
In 2006, 81 graduate students were gathered, and they were given the hepatitis B vaccine. They were asked to rate their emotions after being given two doses.
So what happened to the graduate students who gave more positive emotions?
They developed a twice as strong immune response to the vaccine compared to those who answered with less positive emotions!
3.Joy can help you cope with stress
Feeling stressed is inevitable for everyone in this fast-paced society.
But how can joy help you feel less stressed?
When you experience more joy, your body produces fewer stress hormones which have a positive effect on blood sugar level, inflammation, metabolism, and memory.
4. You may experience less pain
When you are under chronic conditions or injuries, it may be hard to feel positive. What if I tell you bringing more joy to your life can reduce your pain?
Scientists conducted research to find out the relationship between how positive feelings can affect diseases.
They asked women who are going through arthritis and chronic pain to mark positive emotions weekly.
What happened to those women after three months?
Unsurprisingly, the research group found women who rated more positive feelings experienced less pain.
5. Joy may combat disability and disease
You may be drawn into the health benefits of joy and you may be feeling agitated by me not telling you HOW you can increase joy in your daily life yet.
You’re almost there. Stick with me for two more benefits!
Joy is an amazing tool we all can benefit from.
Why joy is useful for your health?
Because it appears to have long-term effects.
In 2008, 10,000 Australians were asked to report their overall happiness and satisfaction of their life, and researchers found out those who gave more positive answers were less likely to develop long-term health conditions.
6. You may live longer
Do you wonder what’s the secret to the grandma who lives in your neighborhood who seems to be so vibrant for her age?
It may be because she incorporates joyful activities throughout her days.
There is a famous study where researchers followed nuns after reading essays the nuns had written upon entering their convents in their 20’s. Many years later they found that those who wrote down more positive emotions in their 20s lived 7-10 years longer than those who wrote down unhappy thoughts.
How to find joy in your daily life
I bet you are super excited to hear what you can do to find more joy daily now that you know the amazing benefits of joy!
To tell you the truth, I had no idea what joy meant to me when I was asked “What’s the most joyful moment in your daily life?” in my health coaching curriculum.
If you have no clue what’s the joyful moment for you on a daily basis like me, you are not doomed.
What you can do about it? – You can start bringing in more joy!
When we were children, we had parents and people around us always trying to entertain us and make us happy. However, as we get older, we have to take ownership of the joyful moments to be happy.
If you have no idea where to start but want to be happier and healthier by noticing a more joyful moment, I can give you some tips here 🙂
1. Practice gratitude
You may have heard of the benefits of gratitude. Maybe you read somewhere that writing down what you were grateful for during the day boosts your happiness.
For me, personally, I like following gratitude meditation in the morning over writing down what I appreciate.
Why can gratitude meditation be helpful for you?
When things are difficult and stressful, we all tend to focus on what’s causing us trouble. It gets difficult to focus on the great things we already have.
By practicing gratitude, you will start noticing positive things in your life. Even as tiny as catching a glimpse of your neighbor’s cat!
How to practice gratitude meditation
Meditation shouldn’t be complicated. You don’t need to go to a retreat and practice meditation for 2 weeks. You can start in the comfort of your own home!
I recommend you practice gratitude meditation in the morning. In this way, you can start your day feeling excited, appreciative, joyful, grateful, and many other positive emotions!
It’s easy to get started. All you need to do is wake up 5 minutes earlier than usual and invest that time in a 5-minute gratitude meditation practice. This is a small thing that will go a long way to helping you find joy.
I recommend doing gratitude meditation especially if things are difficult for you right now. I guarantee you will be able to find more joy in your daily life despite all the difficulties!
2. Grow vegetables
I’m not going to tell you to grow potatoes in your backyard or rent a community garden.
You can start with growing sprouts ????
Growing sprouts is really easy. But first, let me share with you why I think you will benefit from growing your own food.
It’s simple. You get to see something growing everyday and you are the caregiver! Sprouts especially grow pretty quickly. They shoot up in 4-5 days without intense care.
I 100% guarantee you that you will feel joy and be energized by growing your own food and harvesting it when it’s ready.
How to grow sprouts (it’s shockingly easy)
- Buy sprouts seeds. (preferably heirloom seeds)
- Prepare a small container (preferably flat bottom), tinfoil, paper towel, and spray bottle to water.
- Wet the kitchen paper (not too soggy please!!!), fold two paper towels and place them in the container
4. Plant seeds (This is the picture for Day 2).
5. Cover the container with the tinfoil. You will get rid of the tinfoil when yellow sprouts start to sprout from the seeds.
6. You can leave the container in the kitchen. Somewhere the sprouts can get sun light (Not direct sunlight. They may dry out)
7. Spray the sprouts in the morning and in the evening especially when the kitchen paper feels dry. Keep the moisture coming please!!
Once it’s grown like this, you can eat it! The sprouts will keep coming out once you harvest your first group.
3. Learn something new
When was the last time you put in some time to learn a new skill?
The most common way to spend your spare time may be watching Netflix. Nothing wrong with that. I watch Netflix too!
However, do you ever get a sensation of boredom at a certain point if you spend a decent amount of time watching something on Netflix?
If you do, you may need more excitement, and learning something new can be a perfect way to increase joy in your daily life. It worked for me!
Maybe you can read a book, a magazine, or watch MasterClass!
I started MasterClass a month ago because I desperately wanted to watch Alice Waters’ cooking class. My interest kept expanding and I finished taking the cooking class with Alice Waters, a gardening class with Ron Finely, and am currently watching:
- The Science of Better Sleep with Matthew Walker
- Mindfulness and Meditation with Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Cooking l with Gordon Ramsay
- Modern Middle Eastern Cooking with Yotam Ottolenghi
- Dog Training with Brandon McMillan (my boyfriend is watching this)
You know MasterClass is not FREE.
In fact, they only let you subscribe yearly ($180), and it took me a while to actually start, and I was still suspicious if I want to stay or not (they have full-refund if within 30 days). However, I kept finding classes I feel entertained with, so I decided to keep my subscription!
If you are not a big fan of books but want to be entertained and learn something new, MasterClass is the way to go
4. Stay in the present moment
Have you ever wished you can focus on right now, this moment, not worrying about the future or thinking about the past to enjoy your life more? We live in a very busy society, and it’s in our nature that our minds get busy too!
But what if we can stay in this moment to seize joy?
One way is to start meditation.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the master of meditation, says
How easy it is to miss the treasures that are already in your possession that you may never actually realize are resting right in your hands or your heart or right under your feet. Because they’re often buried treasures. Or you have actually to realize that they’re available to you.
Doesn’t this make sense? I believe we already have everything, but we simply don’t notice it because our mind is busy thinking about what to do next!
So how will you be able to stay in the present moment by meditating?
Well, I want to give you a few tips I learned from Jon Kabat-Zinn.
- Make friends with your thoughts. Put out a welcome mat and invite in any emotions or thoughts. You don’t need to see your thoughts as a “distraction”.
- See your thoughts like color reflecting on the mirror. A mirror reflects things but it doesn’t hang on to them. If you don’t feed your mind, your thoughts will go away.
- See meditation as lifting weights. Sometimes, you are fatigued and you may not want to work at it. You just need to bring back your thoughts again, again, and again…
By practicing your thoughts like color reflecting on the mirror, you will become good at staying in the present moment, not worrying about the next things to do or the future.
If you are new to meditation, I recommend starting with a 3-minute meditation.
The thing is, meditation doesn’t need to be 30 minutes long. It’s easier to start with a short but super effective meditation. At least that’s what I did!
If you become more comfortable and feel like it, you can do 5-minute meditation or 10-minute meditation.
Also, if you are interested in learning more about meditation from Jon Kabat-Zinn, here is the free 7-day trial for you!