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JOYful Habits

One of my favorite New Year’s Habits was doing a morning Yoga ritual with one of my girlfriends, Kathy. Some years it was tough after a late night to get up and work through an endless count of sun salutations, but the cleansing and awakening this ritual gave to the start of the new year was always amazing.

I still remember the first time I did this yoga experience. I was dripping with sweat and my muscles were shaking before we were even a third of the way through. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it when the leader encouraged us to think over our year and all the times we had experienced JOY. This was meant to be encouraging and inspire us to keep going. Instead, tears began to leak from my eyes as I realized how much of my year had been spent focused on just doing stuff and getting stuff done. I reflected on how often I criticized rather than laughed. As my body continued to flow up and down through the postures, tears flowed. I couldn’t remember any moments of JOY. I’m sure I had many, but at that moment, I felt empty. I knew I needed to make some changes.

Since that time, I have been working to intentionally bring more JOY into my life. My natural reaction to life is not optimism, so this is a habit I must work at daily. This past year on January 1, I made myself a bracelet with the words, JOY, on it and embraced it as my word for the year.

One day my son asked me, “Mom, why do you have JOY on your bracelet.”

“So I can remember to have JOY in my life,” I responded.

“You know that’s pretty sad if you have to have a bracelet to remind you to

have JOY.”

He’s right of course, but JOY comes easily for him. In fact, it comes so easily sometimes I get angry at him for it. He’ll be dancing and singing around the kitchen, and I’ll yell at him to get busy helping. I sometimes suck the JOY right out of the room with reactions like this.

I’m working on getting better at building more JOYful habits. I put reminders around my house. Simple ones, like a little wooden plaque with the word JOY on it that my friend Carla mailed to me when she found out I picked JOY for my word, or a note in my calendar. I reflect on it in my journal, and I frequently ask myself, “what moments gave you JOY today?” My focus on JOY this year has made me realize I have quite a few habits which do not serve me very well. I often slip into habitual modes of not exercising, staying up too late, procrastinating on projects, eating unhealthy foods, and spending too much time consumed by social media. When these habits get out of balance, I lose a little bit of my focus on JOY. But I’ve also realized I’m a work in progress. Instead of beating myself up like I used to, I take opportunities to reset and refocus.

January is a great time to start that process. It’s the start of a new year. It’s a good time to reflect over the past year and decide what to keep and what to toss out. This year I’m keeping JOY. It’s still on my bracelet, and I’ve added a new word for the new year, BELIEVE. While I have more JOY, I still sabotage myself by not believing I have what it takes to accomplish my goals. This year I intend to be more intentional in focusing on what things bring me JOY and creating intentional habits to support those things. I’ll be sharing my progress and resources throughout the month.

Want to join me? Start by taking some time to reflect on your year. Maybe ask yourself the same question that inspired me, “What are some moments when you experienced JOY?” If you BELIEVE you could create more of the moments, what might you do? What is one action you are willing to take to start? You might want to start by picking your own word. Write it on your heart. Post a note on your mirror, put up a sign or add it to your screensaver. I know some people who work their word into their new passcodes, so they have to remember and type it out all the time. If you want to make a bracelet or get one made, check out Chris Pan started with a simple idea to connect with people over their intention words and has developed a movement. You can buy a bracelet on the site or even become a bracelet maker yourself.

Ready to start the New Year with some JOYful habits. I am. I BELIEVE this year is going to be my best yet. How about you?

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