1. Risk openness.
This tip is from Martha Beck’s book “The Joy Diet”: “When it’s time to be open about something, you’ll know, because you’ll want to say it. You’ll want the other person to know it. You may be terrified of the vulnerability you’ll feel when you open up, but desire will urge you to do it anyway. Follow its guidance.”
2. Replace your “shoulds” with “coulds”.
This is a modified version of an exercise found in Louise L. Hay’s “Love Yourself Heal Your Life Workbook”: Each time you think of something that you “should” do, replace the word “should” with “could”. Ask yourself “Why haven’t I?”. It could be that you are beating up on yourself for something that you either never wanted to do in the first place, or that wasn’t your idea at all.
It could also be that there’s a belief underlying the “should” that needs to be challenged. For example: “I should go and visit my mother, because if I don’t, I’m a bad daughter/son.” Does not visiting your mother automatically make you a bad daughter/son? Not necessarily. It could be that every time you visit your mother, you leave feeling like a piece of crap. In that case, not visiting could be a healthy way of protecting yourself from the toxicity.
3. Challenge a belief you have about yourself or the world.
Let’s say your belief is that you can’t manage your money. Notice how that belief makes you feel, physically and emotionally. Ask yourself “Is this true?” Then, ask yourself “Is this always true? My guess is that your answer is probably “no”. Counter the belief with evidence to the contrary. Think of how many years you’ve managed to put a roof over your head and food in your belly, despite your financial circumstances at the time.
If you can’t think of any evidence to disprove your belief, ask those who are supportive of you. One of my own personal beliefs that needed challenging from outside sources was that all people saw was my weight. I challenged it during a workshop, and I hadn’t met any of the other attendees prior to the workshop. I really got totally unbiased feedback on that belief, and not one person mentioned my weight as what they noticed about me. Some of the things that did get noticed were my energy, my enthusiasm and my sense of humor. It was a very eye-opening surprise. Try it sometime!
4. Do something out of the ordinary for fun.
Doing something out of the ordinary, or something you haven’t done in a while can be a great way to add some joy to your life. Having fun on a regular basis is important.
5. Think about the things that bring you joy.
Think about the things that have brought you joyful memories over the past month or two. What are they? List as many of them as you can. Do they have anything in common?