A few weeks ago I wrote a post about “Finding My Joy Again“. In it, I explored the question of whether or not it is possible for a mother to find and enjoy the same unbridled JOY that our children seem to revel in. They always seem so carefree, without stress, and purely happy!

The answer to this question is: Yes! Of course, it is possible… It’s just simply a matter of “how?”. This post is an exploration of that…

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to have some time out at a wonderful ladies’ retreat. It was here that I started to think more deeply about real and pure JOY. I was surrounded by absolute beauty. And that alone refreshed and gave me a new sense of vigor.

I got out and about and enjoyed long walks, fresh air, and conversation with other women. It was a time of reflection for me. I questioned myself. Asking questions about my dreams and goals, and whether they have changed since having children. If they had changed, why? What did I need to do in order to achieve these dreams? (Yes, being a parent is a dream come true, but we can have many dreams too!) How do we as mothers keep our JOY? How steep is that hill we need to climb in order to reach the summit of joy? How deep is that marsh we need to trudge through in order to get to that place of joy? Can we even see that dream – that summit, that place – in the distance… daring us to try ad reach it?

In the post I mentioned above, I asked my readers to give me a few of their own thoughts on the question of how to find and maintain our joy. Thank you for the comments, they were truly helpful. Putting all our thoughts together I have come up with The JOY Finding Bucket List. This should help us gain a little perspective on how we can maintain our JOY, especially on those difficult days.  When motherhood, parenting, and life, in general, seem to overwhelm us and become a little too much to bear. (By the way, one doesn’t need to be a mother to still find this list helpful)

The Joy Finding Bucket List

  1. Gratitude Journal  It is so important for us to be reminded of the things that we are (or should be) grateful for. It is also important for us to sometimes take the time we need to write those down. Putting things down in writing helps us to process and digest them. Now, to be honest, I’m not one for journaling, however, this is definitely something I want to incorporate into my weekly routine. Every now and again making ourselves mindful of the many wonderful things that fill our lives. Especially on days when we need a little EXTRA encouragement and inspiration.
  2. Reminders of what makes us Happy – Now obviously our family and kids make us happy. But this is not a question of the obvious. What makes US truly happy, beyond the obvious? What dreams do we have that we are too scared to verbalize, for fear they will not be realized or attained? What hopes and desires do we harbor that we know would give us the inner satisfaction we crave, but we are afraid to express these because we don’t want to risk being disappointed? This is where a gratitude journal comes in very handy. And, when we identify these dreams and hopes, are we willing to work our butts off in order to achieve them? Now let me say, in my opinion, my family comes first… and my dreams are accomplished in my spare time. Yes, there might be many obstacles, but, is it possible? YES!
  3. Daily Goals – This is definitely a must in my book. Something as small as just surviving the day can be a huge goal for many! But, whatever our goal may be, set it, strive for it, and tick it off at the end of the day. Even if, waking up in the morning, we decide to exercise, meet a friend for coffee, make a phone call that has been on our heart, or even just get the laundry done. A goal is a goal. Get just one done, and the day seems better already!
  4. Positive Thinking – Positive thinking is a fantastic way of releasing stress. It encourages us to identify our negative thoughts, to name them, and steer away from them… to choose to focus on the positive things in our lives. It is a way of THINKING ourselves into a greater and better existence. This is sometimes a hard one, as those negative thoughts creep in at any given moment. But positive thinking can change our lives. We just need to become more aware of our need to focus on the positive.
  5. Being actively engaged – So many times, especially in this day and age of being constantly glued to the screens of our technological devices, we live “disconnected” from our families, children, and the like. Reminding ourselves to become actively engaged with them, and ourselves means that we are focusing on what is most important. To be ‘present’ in the moment and enjoy every experience for what it is.
  6. Living Simply – When we get “bogged” down by the chase after materialistic things we tend to live our lives striving for “things” that have no real meaning; and are not able to give us the lasting happiness that we are actually in search of. In my opinion, our lives should be marked by striving after experiences, moments that are carved into our memory.
  7. Challenging ourselves – I think that actively challenging ourselves, creates a deeper awareness of our capabilities. We cannot over-estimate the power of simple self-realization, that we can do something if we put our minds to it, for creating a deep sense of joy. Giving ourselves a challenge that interests us, not only gives us a sense of meaning and helps us to grow and learn, but it also cultivates real joy.
  8. Realistic Expectations – Considering the above points of setting goals and challenging ourselves, we must always be careful to not set our expectations too high. Whatever it is that we want to achieve or change, it is important to start with “baby” steps and slowly increase them as they are achieved.
  9. Time Out – This is, by far, my favorite! All of us, whether we are parents or not, women or men, young or old, need to do this. We sometimes need a break. It is vital that we are able to rejuvenate our minds, bodies, and our souls. It sounds so cliche! But the benefits of taking a nap, getting some sun, going out for lunch or on holiday are immeasurable!
  10. Going beyond what we think we can – At first glance this might seem contradictory to point #8… But what I mean by this is that we need to be brave in taking one more step than we initially thought we could. In some cases, this can be done literally – if you decide to go for a 10-minute walk, make it 12. In other cases, it can be quite figurative if you decide to make a phone call (see point #3) and follow that up with a card or even a visit. The simple act of doing just slightly more than we first set out to achieve gives us a tremendous sense of accomplishment – and this is a great source of joy!

Finally, one of our readers suggested that our joy is often linked to whether or not we feel like we are living lives of purpose. I couldn’t agree more! By incorporating all, or at least some, of the points from the list above I believe that purpose will enter the way we live our lives.

This post has definitely given me some food for thought! A bit of introspection for living a life filled with purpose and yes… JOY!