This guest post is by my fascinating friend, Jennifer Clark, owner of Back to Center Wellness Associates.
“Death is gonna catch me eventually; but I tell you what young lady! It’s gonna have to get me from behind because I’m not stopping!”
These are the words of a vivacious 80 year old patient I took care of the other day. He was one of those people I wish I had the whole day to sit and talk to; he was filled with joy and love of life. If you looked at his medical records, you wouldn’t expect to see the man who sat in front of me that day. He had so many things wrong with him that could easily steal his joy, but he didn’t let them.
His wife with was him that day, and she sat next to him with a loving smile as he shared with me how he spends his days. As I talked to him about the importance of exercise, he reassured me that he doesn’t stop moving very much at all during the day. He has too much to do after all! I left the room feeling inspired and motivated by this man. What an example he set for us all.
As I thought about him, I realized how easily we can let life steal our joy. This man has managed to hold on to his joy despite all his misfortunes. So, how can we do the same? How can we move past the adversity in our lives and be happy?
5 Habits to Protect Your Joy
Make Time to Focus on What’s Going Right
All too often we get so caught up in what’s challenging us, that we forget to focus on the blessings we have. Why do you suppose it’s easier to complain than express gratitude? Negativity is a powerful and consuming force, and it can easily sneak in and steal our joy. Make the time every day to focus on what’s going right in your life. I tend to do it every morning when I wake up, but I’ve found when I have a bad day, I make sure I fall asleep with what I’m grateful for on my mind. I’d much rather fall asleep thinking about what makes me happy than the opposite.
We all have challenges and adversity. Don’t let that consume who you are. There are plenty of things to be thankful for, take the time to recognize them.
Live to Serve
Our lives are so precious. One of the best things we can do with our time is to serve. I’ve met a lot of people in my life, and the ones that seemed the happiest, were those who live to serve others. The joy you feel from helping someone is one of the most profound emotions. It’s incredibly energizing.
Don’t believe me? Try it. Help a stranger. Help a friend whose struggling. Go spend an hour at a nursing home and listen to one of the resident’s stories. Clean out your closet and go give those clothes to a homeless shelter. Do something like this, and see how you feel. To serve another is one of the biggest joy generators around.
Fill Your Time with Your Passion
While we should strive to have a career that mirrors our passion, it often doesn’t. Sometimes, in order to make ends meet, you have to do something you don’t enjoy, and that’s ok. But! That doesn’t mean you can’t find time for your passion. Make the time. What better way to experience joy than to do what you love. To do what makes you who you are.
If you can’t make a living by it, don’t shut your passion out of your life. The more you find ways to do things you’re passionate about, the happier you are.
The more you move, the more endorphins are released, and the happier you feel. Be active! I’m not saying go run a marathon, but invest in your physical health by taking the time to go for a walk. If you can’t walk, swim. If you can’t swim, bike. If you can’t bike, find something you can do to be active.
Move. Find a way to keep moving. The more you do, the better you’ll feel.
Appreciate the Right Now
We all fall guilty of being too wrapped up in the future or lost in the past to appreciate Right Now. Before we know it, today becomes yesterday, and we missed it! Stop it! Enjoy the moment, it’s the only one like it. Make it count. Be present, appreciate your today. When you can do this, you’ll be amazed at how much joy it brings. The joy comes from not taking what we have, who we spend our time with, the beauty around us for granted.
As the wise man said to me the other day, death is going to catch us all, but let’s make it catch us all from behind. Live your life filled with joy, and protect that joy with all that you have!
Jennifer Clark is a Physician Assistant and founder of Back to Center Wellness Associates. She is the author of 166 Days: My Journey Through the Darkness, the story of her deployment to Afghanistan and her struggles with PTSD after she returned.
Her story is one of RESILENCE and HOPE, which is the message she will be sharing at “Find Yourself by the Sea“. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to design your best year yet.