Bring Back the Joy

Bring Back the Joy

Question: I feel less happy than I did when I was younger. How can I regain some of the joy of life that I’ve lost?

Answer: At some point, most adults have looked at a child playing blissfully and wished they could turn back the clock. Children at play look happy, carefree, and thrilled about life. They laugh a lot, are easily entertained, and get excited about the simplest things. They have their problems and hurts too, of course, but they are resilient. Children live in the moment and generally spend more time being happy than adults. Here are a few ways you can recapture some of that childhood magic.

Rediscover the world around you. Take a closer look at things that form the backdrop of your days—buds on the tree you pass on your way to the car, rays of morning sun through the kitchen window, white clouds against a cerulean sky, the spiderweb on the drain spout.

Savor your food. Don’t just eat and run; slow down long enough to think about and enjoy it. When was the first time you had that dish? What favorites do you have now that you didn’t like as a child?

Learn something. Children don’t have time to get into ruts because they’re too busy discovering new things. Take up a new hobby or activity. Read a new author. Travel, if only vicariously via travelogue. 

Reward yourself. Set a goal for the week and pick out a reward for when you reach it. Anticipation is one of the best incentives, and it works at any age.

Talk to a child. If you want a fresh perspective, ask a child about almost anything. Wit, wisdom, imagination, hope, pathos—they’ve got it all. Don’t be surprised if you are revisited by some of your own childhood thoughts.

Take downtime. Your world won’t come crashing down if you stop doing and accomplishing for a few minutes. Relax. Contemplate happy thoughts. Let your imagination run wild.

Be thankful for small things. A child can be delighted by a cheap gift, a chance to go outdoors, a bit of attention, a free swing at the park. Think of the little things you enjoy, and give thanks.

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The things which the child loves remain in the domain of the heart until old age.—Khalil Gibran (1883–1931)

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