Creating a Joyful Life… One Experience at a Time

Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog called “Your Defense to Hedonic Adaptation – Gratitude.” It was one of my first blogs I wrote in order to share with you how I started to become more grateful for life.  Gratitude has become an important foundation for me because I find that at the same moment when I feel grateful, I cannot feel sad, angry, or frustrated. 

I honestly don’t know how I ever lived my life before without being deeply grateful for everything around me. 

Over the past year I wanted deepen my gratitude practice and as well make minor changes to my life in order to feel more positive during the day.  Here were the three goals I set for myself:

1.       Realize that positive experiences happen all the time

2.       Find a way to make the joyful feelings of seeing something good occur last longer than the typical split second

3.       Be able to generate these joyful feelings on demand

Let’s dive deeper into these 3 topics.


Recognize that Positive Experiences Happen all the Time

What I have realized over the past year is that journaling about the things you are grateful for once a day just isn’t enough to make a massive impact on how you feel during the day.  I also recognized that being grateful and feeling a sense of joy when you have had a positive experience are two separate things.  

Personally, I focused too much finding things to be grateful for and not enough on seeing all the positive things that occurred in my life.

The difference between being grateful and acknowledging that a positive experience has occurred is a small but an important one.  Being grateful means you feel thankful in some way for something, however having a positive experience means that you have recognized that something good in the world has just occurred. 

Here are a few examples:

Gratefulness – Being thankful that you have a roof over your head

Gratefulness – Being thankful for having a meal at the dinner table every night

Positive experience – Seeing a stranger hold the door open for another stranger

Positive experience – Hearing children laughing while playing on the playground

It was important for me to actively seek and find positive experiences happening throughout the day.  If you don’t actively seek these experiences your mind will tend to attach itself to the negative things that occur.  For me, whenever I see/hear/feel/taste/smell something positive occur, I try to take a moment to let it soak in.


Making the Joyful Feeling Last

Unfortunately, even if we witness a thousand positive moments every day, these moments are nothing more than just passing moments.  We would be lucky to be able to remember these moments in a day or weeks’ time.  Life is an event that continuously flows, one moment we see something great occur then the next moment we are pulled back into our own realities where life is quickly speeding ahead.

Feeling positive for just a split second just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted capture this feeling and let it flood my entire body, mind and soul.

What is this “feeling” that I am talking about?  Think back to a time in your life when you felt so proud of accomplishing something or a time in your life when someone did something so kind for you that it melted your heart.  You should feel a “butterflyish” feeling float through your body.  It’s like a stream of energy that starts from your stomach and flows through the rest of your body.  You should feel your body warm up, so much so that it begins to light up an internal smile.

To me it is absolutely amazing that this feeling exists inside every one of us. In fact, we can all generate any emotion or feeling on demand, this is  one of the secrets to being happy. Realizing that your happiness already exists within you and then choosing to unleash it.

Ok, so how do you integrate this into your daily life?

Here is what you need to do:

1.       Witness a positive experience. It really could be anything:

a.       Seeing the sun rise

b.      Watching a stranger flash you a smile

c.       Receiving a big hug from a loved one

d.      Having a moment of peace during your busy day

e.      Smelling fresh coffee in the morning

f.        Getting a compliment from someone

2.       You should start to notice the feel good feeling bubbling up inside your body. Pay attention to this feeling

3.       Now close your eyes and allow that feeling to linger for a little longer than usual.  This is really the key to making this whole process work!  I personally try to let it linger for 5-10 seconds.  You do this by replaying the event in your mind and being completely aware of the good feelings generated within you.  

4.       As the feeling lingers, you want to feel as though the joyful feelings are absorbing deeply into you.  The best way I can describe it is that you are trying to capture the moment in your mind forever.  You are trying to leave an imprint in your brain so you can call upon this feeling whenever you want.  It’s like you are taking a photograph of the feeling and storing for future use. 


Generating the Joyful Feeling on Demand

After integrating steps 1 and 2 into my life , I asked myself, “Why wait for something positive to occur before generating a joyful feeling within me?“

We have all been gifted with the ability to imagine things that have yet to occur or recall things that have already occurred.  This gift is called visualization. Using this superpower, I modified my morning routine to include what I call a “GRATITUDE FLUSH”

After I wake up, and drink my water, I stand in my office or outside on my porch and think of 3 things that I am grateful for.  For each thing that I am grateful for, I spend approximately 2 minutes, going deep and allowing the joyful feelings of gratitude sink deep within me.

The more often you allow yourself to feel gratitude, the more gratitude becomes a part of you.  Allowing this positive or gratitude feeling to sink deep within you not only makes you feel good, but more importantly it rewires your brain. Your brain starts creating new pathways, and the more often you use these pathways, the stronger the pathways become.  If you do this for long enough you will naturally become a more positive and grateful person.

I hope that this blog gave you a deeper glimpse into my life and how I am actively working to change how I feel and perceive the world on a day to day basis.  I still have so much to learn but the journey thus far has been nothing short of amazing.  

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