You can’t help but smile when you look at these faces filled with genuine joy!
According to the dictionary joy is “a feeling of great pleasure or happiness.” Children are experts at experiencing joy, but what happens to us as we get older? We are so filled with self-imposed expectations, worries, and the demands of busy agendas that we forget to stop and experience a little joy. In The Joy Compass, Psychotherapist Donald Altman writes that the ability to experience joy is more than simple DNA – it is a learned skill, so it’s not too late for us to experience a little joy.
Research shows that one way to build a more positive outlook on life and experience more joy is to “revise our inner language.” Dr. Altman says, “Skillfully using the mind’s faculty of attention can not only make life more tolerable, but can also enhance it with greater joy, meaning, and hope.” The way your inner voice makes sense of the world and communicates can fill you with joy or can raise your stress limit to the max. I agree with his findings because the running commentary going on in my head can either create a positive outlook or sabotage whatever I am trying to accomplish. Negative self-talk can create unnecessary anxiety, stress, and lower self-esteem. The outside world has enough negativity to pull us down, so our inner voices need to lift us up.
Wellness Coach Elizabeth Scott suggests a few ways to build a more positive inner voice.
Tune in to your inner dialogue. We are often unaware of how much negative self-talk we experience during the day. The first step to changing it – is becoming aware of it.
Write down your thoughts. Journaling is a great way to track the flow of your thinking.
Thought-Stopping. When your mind floods with negative thoughts – tell yourself to STOP – and replace the language with a more positive dialogue.
Use milder language. Try to replace extreme words with milder ones that help to neutralize the experience. Instead of saying “I hate these assessments!” – possibly change to milder words like – “These can be annoying, but I know I will gain some new insights.”
Change self-limiting statements to questions. Instead of “I can’t do this!” - transition to a question – “How can I do this?”
Change negative to neutral – or better yet – positive. Do you ever perceive something to be negative before you even experience it? For example – your dinner plans are cancelled at the last minute and the anger (or anxiety) begins. You can choose to be upset or you can stop and think about how you are going to use the gift of this wonderful free time you have just been given.
Self-talk can be a very powerful tool. A positive inner-dialogue can decrease stress, reduce anxiety, and can help to build a more joyful, positive attitude. We shouldn’t let anyone steal our joy – including ourselves.
Lyrics from Mandisa’s “Never Gonna Steal My Joy”
Life may push my heart to the limit
But I won’t let go
Of the joy in my soul
Cause everything can change in a minute
And the world may try
But they’re never gonna steal my joy
Check out this guy’s joy: