Happiness exists when you experience two things: frequent, positive emotions and satisfaction in life. And while the desire for joy-filled lives is something we all share, the things that make us happy come in different forms.
Happiness is often thought of as something that needs to be found. If you just look hard enough or in the right places, it will fall into your lap. But the truth is that happiness is created. All it takes is a little effort.
Focus on possibilities: Gratefulness and joy go hand in hand. It’s hard to feel grateful when you’re down. But building that gratefulness muscle — acknowledging the good in the midst of the bad — can help change your outlook on life.
Think back to a time in your life when you were happy. What contributed to that happiness? Maybe it was the people you spent time with, a hobby you enjoyed, or a service project you were involved in.
If you’ve lost your joy, chances are you just need to find your way back to the things that made you happy in the first place. Here are a few places to start:
Tips to Foster Joy
Connect with people. People are not meant to go through life alone. Whether it’s a conversation with a server at your favorite cafe or a weekend spent with family, human-to-human interaction is one of the leading contributors to happiness. And who you connect with is just as important. Surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook on life.
Give back. According to AARP, a recent study found that older adults who volunteer two or three hours a week are happier and healthier. Volunteering, serving, and doing acts of kindness don’t just improve the lives of others, but your own.
Reflect and meditate. Sometimes the key to more happiness is simply slowing down. If you are feeling rushed or overwhelmed, carve out time to rest. Sit in a park. Walk on the beach or a nature trail. Or just light your favorite candle and read a book. There is satisfaction in stillness.
Feel the rush. A surge of adrenaline doesn’t result in long-term happiness, but it can make you feel good. Sometimes a pick-me-up is all you need. And riding a roller coaster, performing in front of a group, or taking a ride in a speed boat can help boost your mood.
Enjoy the little things. Joy doesn’t always have to come from one big thing. Sometimes joy is the sum of a million little things. Add a splash of color to your home. Look at your favorite photos or read thoughtful letters. Sing along to your favorite song. Put together a puzzle. Make a list of things that are joyful and add to it daily.
Find or reconnect with a hobby. Hobbies give you something to look forward to, boost your confidence, and help keep you sharp. Is there a hobby you used to enjoy that you can take up again? If you’ve never had a hobby, that’s okay! Here are some ideas to help you find one:
- Reconnect with something you enjoyed doing as a child.
- Try a few things outside of your comfort zone or that you don’t think you would like.
- Do something that helps you stop thinking about the worries of your day.
- Do something that feels productive.
- Look to your guilty pleasures for inspiration.
- Do something to satisfy a curiosity.
No matter what you do, make it fun. You do not need to be perfect at it and the opinions of others do not matter.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. But committing to doing one — or all — of these joy-building suggestions will make you feel happier and healthier as you age.
Engage in life: Connect with local school districts, colleges, or theaters. Some offer tickets for older adults to attend sporting or arts and culture events for free or at a discounted rate.
Do arts and culture events bring you joy? Check out York365.com, an arts and entertainment resource by the Cultural Alliance of York County.
Looking for even more ways to bring joy into your life? York County Senior Centers offer adults age 60+ a wide variety of free or low-cost, in-person and virtual fun opportunities. (Note: meals are available for a donation; rabbittransit provides free transportation to/from the centers for adults age 65+)
TroveStreet is Here to Help
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