The New Year is well underway and it can provide a psychological demarcation between the way we have been living our life and the way we would like to live it This year I am going to continue to work on increasing the amount of joy I experience, with the aim that I will be happier and I can pass on the joy to others.
The benefits of joy
Joy is one of the positive emotions identified by Barbara Fredrickson in her broaden and build theory of positive emotions. Barbara argues that positive emotions not only improve our mood in the moment, they also enable us to become more creative and see a wide range of solutions as well as providing a buffer against future hardship. However, positive emotions like joy do not always come automatically. they have to be cultivated and nurtured. Attention needs to be paid to them so that we can savour the moment.
Simple joy exercise
One easy and effective way to do this is to follow the simple exercises proposed by Jackie Kelm. I have been doing these exercises for the past two months and can confirm that they are simple and do not require much time, typically no more than five minutes each day. Each morning I write down three things that I am thankful for. This is a lovely grounding way to start the day, I actively search through the last 24 hours noticing the good things that happened to me. This method consciously brings my attention to things that may otherwise pass me by. It helps me to notice the little things, the detail and be thankful for them.
Novelty is key
It would be easy for me to say each day that I’m thankful for my health, my family, my work, but that would be too easy, and I think I would soon lose the benefits of the exercise. Instead, I search for new things to be thankful for. These may be completely new things, new experiences, new people I meet, but more often they are new details about an everyday experience. The way the sun shines through after the rain, the smile from a friend or the pleasure I take from doing a task well. Looking back and consciously exploring an event to find something to be grateful for in that event is a very powerful tool. Even on the dark days when everything seems to go wrong, I reflect looking for the good and not ruminating on the bad.
One thing that fills me with joy at the moment is the anticipation of working with fellow Positive Psychologist Kim Furnish when we run our Joy Workshop at the beginning of February. It will be a day filled with different science backed techniques to boost joy in people’s lives. We are both so pleased to share our knowledge with others so that they can experience the positivity that we experience. We have chosen to hold it in February because it can be one of the most difficult months for mood. The days are still dark and cold and it is a long way from any public holiday. This means it is the ideal time as this is when we need to boost our joy levels the most. Also, the skills that you will learn at the workshop can be used all year round to ensure you have a joy filled year.
If you are interested in attending the joy workshop please finds details on my website positivepsychologycoaching.co.uk
Both Kim and I would love to see you there.
Fredrickson, B.L. (2001). The Role of Positive Emotions in Positive Psychology: The Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 3, 218-226.
Kelm, J. (2014) North Carolina: The Joy of Appreciative Living. Venet Publishers.
About the author: To find out more about Bryony Shaw MAPP, please click here.