One of the smallest and often most rewarding steps you can take towards self-care is to let yourself experience joy.
And best of all, it’s free!
The key words in the sentence above are to let yourself.
Sounds simple, right?
So, why don’t we do it?
As adults, many of us are conditioned for struggle. We’ve learned to focus on things that are hard in our lives and to do our best to overcome these. Or we see them as insurmountable, too difficult to face and feel we lack the tools to tackle them.
Or perhaps it’s not a matter of struggling but continuously striving — to do more, learn more, have more, be more; never quite being happy with what we have right now.
But what we’re not taught, or rather what we forget as we grow up, is how to focus on joy.
Joy can seem like something you’ll get to experience once you overcome your current challenges or once you’ve achieved that goal. As though it sits on the horizon, waiting for us to get through all the more ‘important’ things. But joy can be experienced alongside your current challenges or desires.
We have the capacity to experience both tough things and joyful things simultaneously. It’s just that often the tough things feel so overwhelming that we don’t believe there is space for joy, so we don’t let ourselves experience it.
But even amongst immense sadness and overwhelm, there can still be little moments of joy. They don’t even have to be little.
You just have to be willing to let it in, create space for it.
It’s a way of showing yourself that you care.
When you allow there to be joy in your life, you fire off a bunch of delicious neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin which have a lingering effect in your body, long after the joyful experience has passed.
So, I encourage you today to put the spotlight of your mind onto something joyful. To choose to let yourself have those little moments where you are not focused on your struggles or your strivings. Even if you don’t feel you deserve it. Even when you feel like your life is so full of stress there couldn’t be space for joy. Find it anyway.
Find it in a puppy’s face, a child’s giggle, a deep conversation, the flit of a bird’s tail, the light in the sky. Find it, and let yourself have it.
Even if it’s just for a few seconds.