Finding Joy Again
For people that have suffered trauma, the brain sometimes goes into a type of survival mode, to protect oneself, to feel safe. Sure, there are moments where contentment and happiness are felt. But many are plagued with persistent negative emotions — just plain stuck and feeling unhappy.
How does one find joy in life again? Like anything else, it takes practice to cultivate happiness. It won’t happen overnight, but here are some things you can do every day to rediscover the secrets of being happier.
First, focus on the positive things in your life. Retrain your brain by forcing yourself to think on positive things every time you are drawn to the negative. Spend time every day searching for five positive things going on in your life. Do this multiple times a day and eventually, your brain will do it automatically.
Choose a phrase you repeat to yourself throughout the day. Something along the lines of “I am grateful for what I have” or “today is a beautiful day”. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself how beautiful you are and that you deserve to be happy. This reminder will help you recognize the silver linings when we are concentrating on the darkness. We must celebrate the little victories. Instead of focusing on the big picture, break the task into smaller portions so you can watch achievements.
Don’t just fill your day with work. Find a little “me” time. Pursue activities and interests that bring you joy and reduce stress. Practicing mindfulness will help you to be aware of your present and accept your feelings and add things to your day that bring you joy and peace. Studies show that engaging in creative activities on a regular basis makes you happier. Using your imagination and being creative leaves you with more feelings of happiness and well-being.
Do what you love. Stop trying to be perfect. Focus on things that motivate you and provide you with a level of satisfaction. In order to do those things, we must be wise with our budgets and spending. Money is the root of a lot of stress so spending wisely is necessary. We can’t always focus on the past or too far in the future. When we stay in our present, we can fully engage with our life. By budgeting wisely, we are able to give to others. Generosity has a feel-good effect that lowers stress.
One of the best things you can do is just be you. Don’t look to others for their approval. Accept yourself and love yourself. Build meaningful relationships and find your community. Without those relationships, we feel isolated and lonely. Supportive friendships will bring you joy. And when hard times come, the comfort of true friends makes all the difference.
With summer around the corner, get out and enjoy the nice weather and the beauty of nature. Go for walks or picnic in the park. Let go of the negative feelings and embrace your new life. You deserve it.
If you or someone you know has experienced intimate partner violence, Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free services such a crisis counseling, court advocacy, and support groups. You may reach us at 256.574.5826 or our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000. You are not alone.