Joy. We all want it. But how many of us really find it? Experiencing last joy can seem like an insurmountable feat. But, it may be more basic than we realize. What if, by spending a few minutes, engaged in an activity called “behavioral activation” you could find and keep a consistent sense of joy?
Try the following exercise to get started:
- Grab a sheet of paper and write down every activity you can think of that makes you feel happy, joyful or content. Some examples are: taking a walk, reading to my child, closing a deal at work, spending time on the water, holding my partner’s hand, scuba diving, making lasagna or doing yoga. The possibilities are endless so just write down as many as you can think of.
- Pick 10 of these activities that you wrote down and write them on a separate sheet of paper.
- Next to each activity you wrote down on the second sheet, place two numbers. The first number is a number between 1 and 10 indicating how much effort it takes you to complete the activity, where 1 is a lot of effort and 10 is little to no effort. Then place a second number between 1 and 10 by that activity, indicating how rewarding the activity is to you, where 1 is not rewarding and 10 is the most rewarding.
Now you’ve identified what activities bring you joy and contentedness, determined how rewarding each of these activities are and how easy or difficult it is to do these activities.
Based on this information, use a calendar to record how many of these activities you are actually engaged in during the next 7 days. Try not to change your typical routine, just observe and record how often you are doing any of the 10 activities you placed on your second sheet.
Doing this will reveal how intentionally you are living your day to day life. Many of us believe that we are seeking joy daily but find, after completing our first weekly log of activities, that we aren’t engaged in regular practices that make joy a reality for our lives.
The next week, take a few moments before the week starts and think through your upcoming week. What days are your busiest and what days leave a little room for squeezing in some joy making activities? Plan exactly what you will do and when on the days where you have a little extra time, and then do it! And the end of the week, reflect back on the joy-inducing activities you completed this week and note how you feel. My guess is that you will feel a great sense of accomplishment, a greater sense of joy and a desire to repeat this practice the following week!
Creating an intentional life takes practice but the rewards are great. If you feel like life is driving you instead of you driving your own life, start with this simple behavioral activation exercise. If you feel you need additional support is feeling joyful and content, please contact us at WellPsyche Medical Group. We would love to help assist you on your journey.