ABCs of Positivity: J Is for Joy
Though the two emotions are often conflated, joy differs from happiness in that joy tends to be self-generated, while happiness is more of an external experience. What makes some people more naturally joyful than others? Genetics play a role, but it doesn’t explain everything. According to Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, genetics account for perhaps half of our natural disposition toward joy. Life circumstances account for another 30 percent, and 20 percent is of our own choosing – which means we each have significant control over how joyfully we live our lives.1
Of course we’re all different. So the things that bring us joy, the degree to which we experience that joy, and the duration our individual joy lasts will vary from person to person. But one thing about joy is universally true.
While we each experience our emotions individually, we humans are all connected. So although joy might be a solitary experience, it’s actually quite important that each of us pursue a joyful life. When you live your best life – your most joyful life – you contribute to the overall joy of all humans. Same is true of every emotion, so it just makes sense that we aim for the positive ones.
Naturally joyful people share a few characteristics:
1. They set realistic expectations and manage them well. Joyful people understand their own skills and talents as well as they do those of others. They set realistic expectations so they’re not disappointed when things don’t go their way. They don’t see letdowns as failures, but as learning opportunities. They are not perfectionists because they know there is no such thing.
2. They seldom take things for granted and express gratitude regularly. Naturally joyful people find delight at every turn and are grateful for gifts, large and small. A friendly person at the checkout stand will delight them as much as an unexpected gift.
3. They value people and experiences more than things. While a joyful person can be as happy as anyone to drive their dream car, they generally prioritize people and experiences more than material items. They realize that money is an energetic exchange, and money alone cannot buy happiness.
4. They focus on the positive. Joyful people can certainly have a down day – but they generally don’t stay down for long and seldom waste time worrying about things they can’t change or that won’t matter by the time the sun comes up tomorrow. They understand the power of their thoughts and they nourish their mental gardens with healthy food.
5. They understand that self-care is not selfish. Naturally joyful people are self-sufficient. They don’t depend on others to make them happy; they know they that others really don’t have the power to make them feel anything. They own their own feelings. They also understand that in order to be of service and available to others, they must first practice good self-care.
6. They are adaptable and open to new experiences. Joyful people welcome change – or at least don’t freak out when change happens, and they are able to make the best out of almost any situation. They’re willing to try new things and love the change to explore. They recognize opportunities and will seldom miss one, unless it’s by choice.
7. They live at a relaxed pace. Though they may have fast-paced jobs, joyful people habitually take their time, rather than always being in a rush. They have time in their day to relax, meditate, read, spend time in nature, take a bubble bath, and relish good conversations.
8. They can see and appreciate others’ perspectives. Joyful people have an almost uncanny ability to see things from someone else’s vantage point. The ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes means they seldom judge or have unrealistic expectations. They are respectful of others and let their compassion guide them.
9. They’re thirsty for knowledge. Joyful people tend to be life-long learners. When a question arises, they are inspired to seek an answer. When a problem arises, they look for – and usually find – a solution.
10. They usually have a plan. Joyful people tend to live with purpose and a plan. But they’re adaptable – so they’re OK if the plan goes sideways. They can think on their feet and make the most of an unexpected situation.
11. Their only competitor is themselves. Joyful people understand that comparing themselves to others is a waste of time that will often lead to envy or an unwarranted superior outlook. They know the only person they’re really competing with in life is themselves, and they have a continual desire to improve all aspects of their lives.
12. They are not easily offended. You’ll never catch a naturally joyful person looking for a reason to be offended. They are able to laugh at themselves, and their sense of humor extends to most circumstances.
13. They live in the moment. Because they don’t dwell on negative emotions, joyful people tend not to hold onto the past or worry about the future. Yes – they plan, but then they let it go. Whatever will be will be – and they will be fine with it.
14. They’re self-aware. This is a special skill most joyful people possess. They are aware of their place in the world, their surroundings, and how their words and behavior affect others. The don’t hold grudges – if there’s a problem with someone, they seek to fix it rather than let it fester.
If you’d like to bring more joy into your life, reread this list. Find one characteristic of joyful people you may find difficult and make a concerted effort to improve it. Do some research: read other blogs; check YouTube for guidance; buy a book or find a magazine article; ask someone you know who seems to have mastered that trait.
Most importantly, keep practicing.
Journal about your experiences – what you’ve tried, what has and hasn’t worked, what encourages you, why you believe this is an important trait to master. What you focus on expands. Your very effort of pursuing this area of self-growth will cause you to improve.
ABCs of Positivity A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
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