Speaker and Life Coach Carmalyn McCracken shares her advice on how to find joy. She’s here to help you realize, discover, re-discover and live the joys that are already in your life, perhaps hidden under the “clutter” of every day life according to her website.
“I consider myself a joyologist and I specialize in helping others find joy,” Carmalyn said.
Finding Joy Everyday
Life is always changing, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now all of our routines are different, our schedules are different and we are experiencing life differently.
“What I want to do is just kind of remind you of some things that you probably already know but maybe you haven’t thought about in awhile or maybe haven’t practiced it in awhile, and so hopefully I’ll give you a couple tips that will help you shift a little bit to find more joy in your daily life,” Carmalyn said.
Happiness vs. Joy
You cannot be happy without be joyful, but you can be joyful without being happy. Joy is continuous and happiness is fleeting. Joy goes all the way to the bone and happiness is kind of skin deep.
Joy is permanent and it’s settled and it abides all the time whereas happiness is temporary and fickle.
“The word happiness comes from the Latin word fortuna which means when things are good you feel happy, but what about when things aren’t going good, and you’re not feeling so happy?” Carmalyn said. “That’s okay because joy is always there, even on our dark days.”
Joy is based on choice and happiness is based on chance. Imagine this visual: Joy is like a fire made of oak. Oak embers that give off heat all night long way after the flames have died down, so you just see that warm glow of the oak fire; whereas happiness is a flame made out of pine where it explodes and there’s a lot of tall fancy flames and then it dies down quickly and grows cold.
Where is Joy?
“There is no magic trick to finding joy, but joy is focus focus not hocus pocus,” Carmalyn said. “It’s focus focus, what are you focusing on? You need to start looking for joy and you’ll see it come around daily, regularly and throughout your day.”
The question is ‘what are you looking for?’ When you wake up every morning are you intentional about thinking what does this day have ahead for you? Are you thinking I’m going to look for positive things? When you start looking for something you realize it starts appearing more and more and more.
“They say that if you have to move even 10 inches from where you are right now to find happiness to find joy, that you will never find it, because joy is not in the future, it’s not in the past, it’s the present, it’s in the right now right here,” Carmalyn said.
What we are full of is what spills out when we hit a bump in the road. When stress comes what spills out of you? Is it anger? Is it fear? Is it envy? Or, is it joy? Is it gratitude?
During this time of uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic, there’s more fear and anxiety going around, but it’s the perfect time build our joy.
“We need to know that even when the times are tough and we get knocked over or knocked around that’s what going to spill out of us is our gratitude and sense of calm,” Carmalyn said.
Building Your Gratitude Muscle
Gratitude can be a bit of a cliche these days with gratitude journals and everything, but research shows if you practice writing down 5 things a day for 21 days that you’re grateful for, your life will not look the same. Writing five things down a day can actually start to change your brain chemistry. You’ll start realizing what you’ve been missing and how many things you actually have to be grateful for.
“I’m a life coach I’m not an exercise coach,” Carmalyn said. “I will never tell you to go to the gym and sweat, but I am a joy coach and I will send you to the joy gym. I want you to build these muscles that you haven’t used in a long time. Our gratitude muscle is one of those and often it has become so weak that we don’t even know how to use it.”
Just like when you start new exercises at the gym it may feel awkward or forced at first and you might be sore the next day, using your gratitude muscles is the same. It may feel awkward at first, but the more you use it the easier it becomes and you’ll start noticing how good you feel.
Try this exercise at home: Think about the five senses. Look around the room and find something that you see that you’re grateful for. Is it a pet, a good book or house plants? What is something that you hear that you can be grateful for? Maybe dogs barking outside or music playing in the other room. What is something you smell that is something to be grateful for? Maybe it’s coffee in the morning or dinner cooking on the stove. What is something you can taste that you can be grateful for? Maybe it’s ice cold water or peppermint gum. Finally, what is something that you can feel that you are grateful for? Maybe it’s a soft blanket or the fluffiness of a pet.
Being Grateful for the Little Things
It’s important to remember the big things we are grateful for like family, kids, church, jobs but those big things can also be sources of stress. It’s all the in between things and it’s the little things
everyday that we need to be grateful for; Noticing the sunshine and the way the grass glistens after the sprinklers turn off, it’s all the butteries we see flying around. It’s having cold water or air conditioning.
“They call it an alarm clock when it goes off in the morning, and it rattles you and alarms you that your day is beginning, but I don’t like that,” Carmalyn said. “I like to call it an opportunity clock, because you know what? That gives you another opportunity to get up and live. And, that is the first and easiest thing to be grateful for today.”
Start to shift your thoughts throughout the day. Try keeping a journal and writing down little things, or take pictures of things you’re grateful for. The more you workout your gratitude muscle the better you will feel and the more joy will find.
Moving your body, practicing gratitude, going outside and smiling are four ways to help change your brain chemistry and feel better. Doing these activities for just 20 minutes a day can help improve your mood. Research shows that even a forced smile will lower your heart rate, decrease stress and increase your feelings of joy.
“I challenge you to look for joy because I promise you it is there,” Carmalyn said. “Look for joy and you will find it.”
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