Recently whilst waling with friends in nearby woods, we heard the most beautiful bird song. We paused for a moment to listen to the sweet sound, and my heart felt full of joy. To me the sound was as sweet as sugar, and I realised that so often we get addicted to sugar and other substances when we are missing moments of sweetness in other areas of our life. Sugar might not be your go-to, but how often do you really allow yourself pure, unadulterated joy?
Personally, I have had to learn how to allow myself joy. For many reasons (including having a moon in Capricorn, known for its stern work ethic), I struggle to give myself permission to spend money on anything that isn’t necessary. Joy isn’t just about spending money of course, but sometimes it can be fun to spend money on something just for pure joy, without it being practical or essential. Joy can be reading a good book, kicking through autumnal leaves, having a lie in, or enjoying a really good quality chocolate - the important thing is that it’s YOUR joyful pleasure.
The more we experience pleasure, the more we increase our feelings of self esteem and self worth. Joy ultimately comes from being connected to our life force, what is known in yoga as prana. Doing activities that boost your feeling of wellbeing increase your flow of prana - so the more you recognise your worth and value in being here, the more you take care of your wellbeing, an boost your prana. We are also connected to our life force when we become very present in that moment - so if that means treating yourself to coffee and cake, you really let yourself slow down and savour the taste (watching out for any critical thoughts of feelings of guilt, and allowing pleasure and joy to take their place).
Joy is essential, and is even good for our health. Dr Christiane Northrup’s book Goddesses Never Age explores in detail the many ways you can bring more radiance, vitality and wellbeing into your life, and one of the thing she shares is the importance of a positive mindset. Becoming more positive isn’t as easy to do as it is to write - it can become your daily practice, your yoga, your way of connecting more deeply to the Divine, to God, to Spirit, or any other language you prefer. However you choose to bring more joy into your life, know that more joy equals more positivity and vice versa.
How to bring more joy into your life
Women who work with the menstrual cycle can use the ovulation phase to bring joy into the life. This phase represents mothering and care, brought on by feel-good hormones, so why not use some of those loving feelings towards yourself? For those without a menstrual cycle, why not use the phases of the moon? Full moon is symbolic of ovulation, so why not plan something you know will give you real pleasure at this time?
Find movement you WANT to do. and food you WANT to eat which make you feel good. This is especially important if you are used to punishing yourself with ‘regimes’ that use aggressive and war-like language. No pain, no gain is outdated - find movement you really want to do, and it wont; be such a struggle to make it. Equally, explore ways of eating that really benefit the body, and over time, food battles melt away.
Connect. Whether you’re enjoying a cup of tea and a slice of cake with a friend, or embarking on a spiritual practice - connect fully with what you are doing. From savouring the taste of your food, to giving your friend your full attention, or enjoying your new book or meditation recording - bringing as much attention as you can to that moment will make whatever you’re doing more joyful (or help you to see areas where you are lacking joy, which will then help you to figure out what small changes you might like to make).
This time of year is often called the season to be jolly - so how can you bring real long-lasting joy into your life?