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How Can We Spread Joy… For Free?

As the joy filled time of year around the holidays pass, many individuals struggle going into the months of January and February. It’s cold, gets dark earlier, and it feels like there are less things for us to look forward to on the day-to-day. Coming from a time period filled with holiday cheer, we find ourselves with the question of how we can continue to feel and spread joy to those around us. This may feel like an even more daunting task this year than in the past as we’re unable to be in person with many friends and loved ones. However, there are still many ways we can make people’s days, as well as our own, without spending a penny. “Sometimes it only takes a few seconds to make someone’s whole day.” The smallest gestures can leave the longest lasting impressions. Even better, many research studies have shown a strong link between acts of kindness and generosity towards others and our own individual, personal happiness. The same small acts of kindness that we can direct towards others can also be turned inwards. I frequently speak to clients about having an emotional tank. We only have so much emotional capacity in our tank to allocate both outwards and inwards. So, how do we make sure we fill our tanks? And what are these small acts of kindness I keep mentioning? Let’s get into both below! 

The first way we can spread joy is through positive affirmations. Starting our days off being kind to ourselves and lifting ourselves up sets the tone for how we treat ourselves and others throughout the day. In the early days of the new year many people set intentions for what they’d like to accomplish this year. It’s important to remember that we can set intentions each and every day. Intentions of how we’d like to carry ourselves or treat others. Mantra’s such as, “you are brave”, “you are kind”, “you are strong”, can go a long way in our self-perception. 

Another way to spread joy is through self-care. Before we quickly dismiss this clickbait term, there are aspects of self-care that are not frequently discussed. Emotional and spiritual well-being, along with maintaining strong interpersonal relationships are all aspects of self-care. Fostering these components of self-care can lead to more purposeful and fulfilling lives. 

Unfortunately, our brains are wired to recognize the negative more so than the positive leaving us with the task of rewiring our brains. This sounds dauting, I know, however, it’s not as time consuming as it may seem. Developing a gratitude practice can make a huge impact on how we view the day-to-day. Simply the act of writing out a couple things we’re grateful for each day can really help improve our mood. “Every day might not be good, but there’s something good in every day.” 

I like to think of things as “you get what you give”. Ideally, if you’re walking down the street and smile at someone, or smile with your eyes during the pandemic, you’ll receive a smile in return. Saying hello to a stranger, wishing the barista a good day, saying thank you to others with a big smile, can have a lasting impact on their day, helping them more than we may even be aware of. Sending a thank you note or a text to someone letting them know you appreciate them can turn a bad day good. The phrase, laughter is the best medicine, isn’t just something people say without holding truth. “Intentional laughter, even in the times when you feel like nothing seems funny, releases endorphins. Your body can drink your mind.” 

The last act of kindness, and potentially the most difficult, is helping others. Helping the elderly that are unable to go places due to the virus, checking in on friends and loved ones who may be isolated, delivering groceries, doing someone’s errands, or offering an ear to listen can make a significant impact. Like we discussed above, many research studies have shown a strong link between acts of kindness and generosity towards others and our own individual, personal happiness. So, spreading joy to others can increase joy in ourselves? Sounds ideal to me! 

If you’ve found yourself struggling with feelings of sadness or isolation, unable to feel, spread, or accept joy it may be useful to try leaning on a professional counselor in Chicago. Get in touch with Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!

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