Forget Reducing Stress. Just Add More Joy

Sick of listicles about reducing stress? This isn't one of them. This is about adding joy. When we add more joy to our lives there's simply less space, time, and energy for stress. >> yesandyes.org
If you were to rank the humans of the world by their stress levels, I’d probably rank somewhere in the bottom third.
I’d be well, well below pilots or event planners and well below mothers. I’m more stressed than a house cat or yoga instructor, but stressed out enough that I’ve completely given up caffeine and I keep trying (and failing) to meditate. I just sit with my legs crossed and mentally compile lists of all the things I need to do.

I’m stressed out enough that I’ve spent more time than I care to admit Googling “stress reduction tips” and “how to stress less” and “shouldn’t I be more focused and zen now that I’m not drinking coffee?”I took this question to my friend Jina and her answer immediately filled me with that glowing calm I imagine occurs when you actually figure out how to meditate. Her wisdom:

Stop worrying about reducing stress. Just add more joy. Click To Tweet

Subtracting the stressful things from our lives – the long commute, the ridiculous sister-in-law, the snarky co-worker, the loud neighbor – isn’t always possible. Spending a lot of time and energy thinking about those things might just make us feel powerless and even more stressed.

And of course, there are stress-inducing things that can and should be changed. Like, you know, hypothetically, the engine light in my car or the fact that my clean clothes are down to cocktail dresses and swimsuit bottoms.

But what if we just add more joy to our daily lives? What if we make an active choice to do more of the things that fill us up and make us really, truly happy?

You can add more joy by:

* listening to your favorite podcasts during that long commute
* spending your lunch break outside or at a new cafe
* getting up early and having breakfast at a diner
* writing postcards and letters to your friends and family during your train commute
* making your office a pleasant place to be
* buying cleaning supplies that are pretty to look at and a pleasure to use (I love this almond-scented dish soap!)

When we add more joy to our lives, there’s simply less room for stress. We all have limited space in our brains and hearts and it’s hard to nurse a grudge at our colleagues when we’re busy laughing into our pho with a friend during a workday lunch.

More space in your life for awesome means less space in your life for stress.

How can you add more joy to your life? I can’t subtract client deadlines or the noisy toddler who lives in the apartment below mine, but I can add more joy. What can you add to your life that will push a bit of stress out of the picture? 

P.S. How to find more meaning in your life.

photo by imani clovis // cc

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