All Work and No Play? Three Simple Ways to Increase Your Daily Joy

“Sorry, I’d love to grab coffee with you, but I don’t have time. I’ve got so much work to do. Some other time maybe.”

I worry that finding time for joy and fun is something we postpone way too often. I mean, if the only joy-related experience you’ve had in the last two weeks was reading my blog post about joy, then I strongly encourage you to get out there and get thee some joy on, post-haste.

Need some inspiration? I’ve got some for you.

Know that your own joy directly benefits others

Your experience of joy is both renewable (yay!) and transferrable (double yay!). There’s always more to be found (though you might have to look for it) and your joy both directly and indirectly benefits others. So much for feeling guilty for getting your joy on.

For starters, feeling joyful yourself can boost the mood of others. “Simply put, as a species, we are innately vulnerable to "catching" other people's emotions,” notes Psychology Today.

Candles spelling Joy

Experiencing joy can also boost your overall happiness long-term, which tends to bring out your kindest and most generous impulses. Writer and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin writes: “Studies show that. . . happier people are more likely to help other people, they’re more interested in social problems, they do more volunteer work, and they contribute more to charity. . . By contrast, less-happy people are more apt to be defensive, isolated, and self-absorbed. . .”

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others is experiencing joy on a regular basis.

Click here to get our FREE Guide: 16 Ways to Experience and Share Joy.

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” - Gretchen Rubin

Create a joy habit, one small step at a time

Older woman picking flowers and laughing

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear argues that “too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action.” The truth, he says, is that “improving by 1 percent. . . can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run.”

Through a process known as the aggregation of marginal gains, significant change is achieved through small actions that are repeated on a regular basis. Clear posits that “if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.”

The question you must ask yourself is: would you like your life to be exponentially more joyful a year from now? And are you willing to dedicate 1% of your time each day (about 14 minutes) to significantly increase the amount of joy you experience on a regular basis by this time next year?

If the answer is no, then I offer you my highest regards and will let you get on your way.

If the answer is yes, however, there is no time like the present to commit to a daily habit of whatever brings you joy: walking, listening to music, coloring, watching space videos, taking pictures, picking flowers, reading...

Child coloring

Fake it till you make it

We all know the Alcoholics Anonymous line, “fake it till you make it.”

The phrase has stuck because it reflects an important truth: often, meaningful transformation requires persistence even when - especially when – the process seems pointless and you most want to quit.

At first, you might decide to show up for joy on a regular basis but not feel particularly joyful. In fact, the experience may even be stressful. You might feel like, I’m wasting time; I should be doing something less selfish and more productive; and anyway, this is really silly – what responsible adult takes breaks just to feel joyful, for crying out loud?

Discomfort and mental pushback in the face of change is normal. The trick is to keep showing up even when it’s uncomfortable or feels like it isn’t working. As Clear says, “What matters is whether your habits are putting you on the path toward success. You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.” Most people, Clear says, quit before the cumulative benefits of the new habit can be appreciated.

“Sometimes your joy can be the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Woman smiling with smiley face balloon

And while you’re showing up for joy, act as if you feel joyful – even when you don’t. There’s scientific proof that acting “as if” can change how you feel. For example, you might think that smiling is a result of feeling happy. But sometimes the opposite is true. Science has shown that “smiling can trick your brain into believing you’re happy which can then spur actual feelings of happiness.” Imitating the feelings of joy might help boost your joyful frame of mind.

How about if you and me, we make a deal. Let’s both commit to starting a joy habit ASAP. I’m pretty sure I hear 37x more joy calling both our names.

Wait – don’t go! Click here to get our awesome FREE Guide: 16 Ways to Experience and Share Joy.