It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that joy is one more accomplishment, life experience or material possession away. But it’s often one perspective shift away instead. Below are five mindset shift practices that have invited more joy into my life.
1. I Celebrate What I Have
Research shows that counting your blessings improves your mental health, and I can attest to that. I used to be so goal-driven that I would always focus on the next milestone to achieve. Inevitably, this put me in a lack mindset where I paid more attention to the things that were missing in my life than the things I already had.
Now, instead of focusing on what I have yet to experience or accomplish, I celebrate my life. That’s a mindset shift. It has become such a habit that I no longer need to write gratitude lists. I naturally notice things to feel grateful about. For example, I take notice of how comforting cuddling with my fiancé feels or how freeing it is to design my own schedule and remember that those things once only existed in my imagination.
2. I Feel All Of My emotions
Not all emotions are pleasant and that’s just part of being a human. According to Right as Rain by UW Medicine, toxic positivity involves “dismissing negative emotions and responding to distress with false reassurances rather than empathy.” It also stems from an inability to cope with negative emotions.
Once I started avoiding toxic positivity and working on my ability to feel safe processing uncomfortable emotions, it opened up a whole new world for me: All emotions felt more vibrant – including joy.
3. I Don’t Define My Self-Worth By My Productivity
I care about my work. But I have detached my sense of self-worth from any outcomes I produce in my career. This, in turn, has removed an unhealthy amount of pressure that was robbing me of joy.
Think about it this way: If success or failure means something about you as a person on a fundamental level, the stakes get high – and so does the pressure that you put on yourself. Ironically, untying my self-worth with my productivity has made me more productive. I am more interested in growing and evolving while exploring my strengths and interests than in proving something, which translates into more creativity and impact over time.
4. I Embrace Authenticity Over Perfection
There were a few years when I was highly conscious of the way I carried myself and how others would perceive me. This misguided attempt to feel in control led to increased anxiety and worry. I have been on a mission to live authentically since 2018, and it has brought so much joy into my life.
Embracing authenticity over perfection means accepting all parts of myself, even the ones I feel self-conscious about or like less. I’d rather be honest and human than try to do everything perfectly. And when I do that, others feel more comfortable around me too. Cultivating authenticity has led to meaningful relationships, purposeful work, increased confidence, and a way more relaxed and liberated way of life.
5. I Prioritize Fun And Enjoyment
In order to feel more joy, you have to prioritize the things that bring you joy. That is a mindset shift. It sounds simple, but we’re often taught that we’re selfish if we want to do something just for ourselves, extravagant if we spend money on something not practical, or lazy if we just want to sit around without maximizing our time.
I aim to unlearn this social conditioning and never feel guilty about the fact I want each day to include a dose of fun and enjoyment, whether I simply go for a walk and listen to my favorite podcast or decide to treat myself to a massage on a random weekday.