Wednesday 18 August 2021

6 Ways to Regain Your Joy - Learn how to cultivate this beautiful, elusive emotion.


Joy is unlike any other emotion. Unlike happiness,

which we often feel as a result of things outside of us, joy is something that is cultivated internally. It is a unique combination of satisfaction, peace, and intense positivity that provides what many describe as a spiritual experience.

Unfortunately, joy is also a fleeting thing for many of us. We’re blocked from experiencing this wonderful emotion by our negative responses to tragedy, hardship, and the accumulated baggage of life. This results in our lives being marked by a nagging sense of emptiness at best, and deep depression, at worst.

But you can change this—you can cultivate joy in your life by living intentionally. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can change how you react to them, and that makes all the difference. If you can learn to create joy within yourself, you’ll carry that joy with you wherever you go, and through whatever circumstance you might find yourself, and it will sustain you.

It can be a huge challenge, though to shift your mindset from negative thinking to one that is conducive to joy, so here are 6 things you can do to regain the joy in your life.

Stand Your Ground

When things get tough, bad memories build up, or when tragedy strikes, it’s often our first impulse to simply run. After all, getting away from the sources of your misery will help you regain your joy, right?

Not so fast.

Remember this: no matter where you go, the one thing that remains the same is you. You can’t escape yourself, and so if your reaction to bad circumstances is negativity, that’s going to keep happening. If you run from difficulty instead of facing it and correcting the way you react to that difficulty, you’ll never find your joy.

Instead, stand your ground and face your pain. Tolerate it and be forgiving and kind toward yourself. You’re human, and you’re hurting, and that’s okay. Take the time to heal before you even think about moving on.

Run away from your problems, and you run away from your joy, but if you can find it within yourself to stand your ground and face your pain, you’ll take the first step toward regaining your joy.

Challenge Yourself

Challenge is an opportunity for growth, and is one of the keys to joy. Without something to strive for, it’s all too easy to stagnate and succumb to negativity.

Get out there and do something that gives you a sense of purpose, and that raises your self-esteem. Start with basic self-care challenges, such as exercising regularly, eating well, and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.

Once you’ve got that down, try giving—volunteering your time and energy at a charitable organization can be a huge step toward a more positive lifestyle. In fact, doing something good for someone other than yourself is directly linked to joy!

Whatever you do, whether it’s learning a new instrument, serving at a homeless shelter, or picking up long-distance running, take small steps and don’t be afraid to fail. There will be some stumbles along the way, but as you master your challenges, you’ll begin to feel the stirrings of that long-lost joy.

Manage Your Perspective

The deeper you get into joy-blocking negativity, the harder it becomes to step outside of yourself and see your reactions for what they are—totally controllable. To take off the blinders, you’re going to have to manage your perspective.

One great way to do this is by keeping a gratitude journal. Whether you use a keyboard or a pen and paper, start writing down the things you’re grateful for each day. Try to get every little thing, no matter how small. If you’re thankful for that one little blade of grass that somehow made it through the sidewalk and brightened your morning, include it—nothing is silly, as long as you’re thankful for it.

This will remind you of all the good that’s in your life so that you can stop focusing on what you lack. You may even find yourself naturally refocusing on the good things that happen throughout the day, rather than the bad.

Our lives are made up of what we choose to look for. Intentionally choose joy, and you’ll find it.

Visualize Happiness

The human mind has the powerful ability to imagine things that aren’t necessarily present in reality. We can simulate anything, past, present, or future. When used as a tool for emotional health, this practice is called visualization.

Visualization is one of the best—and least-known—ways of overcoming negativity. To take advantage of it, simply picture what you would like your life to be like in an ideal world. What people are there with you? What do you look and feel like? What’s your job and social standing? Take everything into account.

Now, create a mental state in which you believe this ideal life is achievable. Close your eyes and focus on the things that bring you joy, and you’ll encourage your brain to feel that they’re possible.

This will help break negative patterns of thought—phrases like “I can’t,” and “That’s impossible” won’t seem so appealing anymore. Soon, you’ll begin to feel more confident that your life can get better. And after this, you’re all the more likely to get out there and make that better life happen.

Do Something New

Our minds are programmed to take pleasure in the novel. Because we, as human beings, “grew up” as a species of hunters and gatherers, our brains are trained to evaluate anything new as either a potential benefit or a threat.

To encourage you to pay attention to the new, your brain, quite literally, will reward you for seeking it out, releasing feel-good chemicals. This is why doing something new can help you find your joy.

Being settled into a routine brings stagnation, and encourages you to stay in the same old circles of thought that have been keeping you from experiencing joy.

It’s time to break out.

Shake up your routine in either small or big ways. If you usually skip breakfast, have a stack of pancakes. If you haven’t spent time with friends in a while, have a night out with your buddies. Been stuck in quietude for too long? Head to a concert. Just do something that’s different from the way you usually do things.

Newness is a contributor to joy, so go have an adventure!

Try Minimalism

Sometimes, the things we keep leave us feeling overburdened and stuck in life, and so getting rid of possessions can help you to feel free again.

To start on a path to joyful minimalism, play a game with yourself. Pledge to get rid of one item per day for a month. If you’re like most people, you’ll start running into challenges about halfway through, but don’t give up.

They key, here, is to pick up each item, look at it, and ask yourself one important question: does this bring me joy?

If not, toss it. If it does, then keep it.

Over time, do this with everything you own, honestly evaluating each item for the effect it has on your life. You may find a few things that make you unexpectedly joyful, as well as a few things you thought you loved, but really don’t.

Making more room for joy in your life sometimes takes a little housecleaning, so consider going minimal.

It's Time to Let Go

Joy is yours for the taking—you just have to let go of your negativity, reach out, and grab it. And if you can make these changes, you’ll not only regain your joy, but you’ll get to keep it this time.

That’s no small matter, so use these tips to let go, find peace, and embrace the joy that you deserve.

Wesley Baines is a graduate student at Regent University's School of Divinity, and a freelance writer working in the fields of spirituality, self-help, and religion. He is also a former editor at You can catch more of his work at

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