Who doesn’t love to feel joy?

But do you remember the last time you felt it? If you think you have to wait for joy to come to you, that it’s just a lucky feeling that overtakes you sometimes, you’re missing some possibilities to feel it.

Joy comes from MANY paths…we need not wait for joy to come nipping at our heels. We can invite joy, create joy, explore joy, expand joy with these paths.

6 of the Paths to Joy

1. Progress.
Yup! If we are headed forward, moving toward something, we have an opportunity to experience the joy of progress. It’s not about the end goal. Sure, that will feel amazing, but the distinctions and discoveries and successes we see along the way are fodder for joy when we stop and take them in!

2. Programming
We think we are expressing our own free will every day, but the truth is we are thinking, feeling, and behaving based on programs running in the background in our brain. For example, we have emotions we have wired into our brains by feeling them often and others we struggle to feel because we have not mapped out routes to them in our brain and then practiced those routes over and over until they become programmed patterns.

You can take charge of your programming! When you lay down the tracks in your brain to joy intentionally and regularly, you will create a super highway to that emotion. (This is something we practice A LOT in my coaching programs!)

3. Presence
Presence is about fully inhabiting the moment you are IN, not dragging along your memories of the past or your worries about the future, but just being present to this moment now. Tension and stress arise when we are thinking about moments other than the one we are in.

What activities can you choose today to be more present for? Doing laundry? Driving? Talking to your kids? Just keep bringing your attention back to the breath and grounding yourself in the here and now by taking in all the senses.

4. Providing
When you provide comfort, compassion, laughter, magic moments, or anything else that comes from a space of generous, open-hearted love, you not only provide wonderful feelings to the person or people you are helping, you also come to know yourself as the SOURCE of those things. Plus, what you offer them must flow through you to get to them. When you take the time to soak in this good feeling, you feel joy.

Example: Lynn, a woman in my coaching program was facing a challenging situation with her dad in the hospital. You’d think the day would be only frought with worry, but somehow she made a magic moment in the middle of it. I was so impressed. Here’s what she said: One of my magic moments today was “hugging a woman at the hospital who was hysterical that I didn’t know, but was terrified. I walked by her, and then couldn’t keep walking. I turned and asked her if she needed a hug. She said ‘i need something..please help me,’ and cried. I hugged her. Then the nurse came and got her to take her back to her loved ones… I felt a universal love for her and her humanity.”

In the midst of pain and struggle, Lynn stopped to be PRESENT to someone else in pain and then PROVIDED her with deep compassion and a hug. Feeling universal love IS joy, and Lynn made this happen. Not only that, but she then took the time to NOTICE that it happened, which helped her PROGRAM this joy into her brain.

5. Pain
I know this sounds nuts, but let me explain. Have you ever been to a yoga class where they have you lie down on the floor and in turn tighten then release each area of your body? The act of tightening and the releasing brings a new level of awareness and relaxation to each part of your body. The same is true with pain. When you know pain — whether physical or emotional — it’s like the tightening of the muscles. You are enveloped. When it ends, you feel a release that surpasses how you felt before the pain started. You see things differently and appreciate the ease you more now more. You had the same ease and room in your life before the pain, but now you appreciate it differently because you lost it for a time. Think about the last time you were sick and how relieved you felt afterward. There is joy there to be had, but you have to focus on it to call it out. You have to remember to really FEEL the release when the pain ends, and there’s a path to joy.

6. Play
When we are at play, the world, changes. We get into a state of flow with The Universe. What’s play for you? Is it creating? Coloring? Playing a board game? Doing a puzzle? Playing with your cat or dog or horse or bunny or child? Kayaking? Playing tennis? This path to joy requires that you discover what PLAY is for you, and then make time to engage in it, being fully PRESENT to the experience as it happens.

Notice that all these paths to joy require you CONSCIOUSLY choosing to pay attention to the possibility for joy that is there — and then expanding it and holding it.

BONUS: Try to hold the thoughts about joy for at least 20 seconds (researchers tell us a minimum of 20 seconds is the magic number you want to hold a thought for for your brain to get those tracks laid down).

Do you have any more paths to joy to add? Does this list offer you a new perspective? I’d love to know!