There’s a lot going on in the world right now that can leave you feeling helpless and hopeless. It’s tempting to want to retreat into your own little bubble with thoughts like, what could little ol’ me possibly do to shift the political climate, the worldwide hunger epidemic, and seemingly growing divisiveness between people on opposite sides of an imagined fence?
There are, of course, masterful and powerful souls who have the fire, tenacity, and—let’s face it—time, to actually go out and create a revolution. But what about the rest of us? Is there anything you can do in your daily life that could contribute to a world of more peace, understanding, and love?
Why the World Needs You to Prioritize Your Joy
Imagine you and your friend are walking along in the woods, and your friend falls into a deep ditch. You could not even help him/her get out if you climbed down there with him/her; then you’d both be stuck down there. The only way to pull a person out of a hole is to stand your elevated ground and pull him up.
Energy is the exact same thing. When someone you know is deep in a “ditch” of frustration, anger, grief, or pessimism, it doesn’t truly help him/her if you take on his/her feelings yourself. Be compassionate and understanding, yes, but unless you want to perpetuate and compound that negativity, you must anchor yourself in your own positivity to be of any service.
Refuse to jump into the ditch of negativity no matter what. That’s not to say you should take it upon yourself to save other people from their emotions—of course, a person has to have the desire to get out of the ditch before you can try to help them out. However, it’s important to remember that your position of power is on the higher path, not on the lower one.
When You Make Happiness a Priority, It Gives Others Permission to Do the Same
People (especially mothers) are quick to label their own happiness as selfish, unnecessary, or lowest on the totem pole of priorities. But consider this: when do you enjoy your family members most? When they feel sad and guilty, or when they are happy and thriving? Don’t you think your family enjoys you more when you yourself are happy?
Not only is your environment more pleasant when you are happy, but you are giving other people permission to be happy themselves. Become an inspiration for the people around you, and when you do, you will feel great meaning in your daily attention to your well-being. Engage in meaningful activities that spur positive emotions, and show your children, spouse, and coworkers that they too should take responsibility for their own happiness.
From there, the happiness gets passed on like a (healthy) virus. Research shows that positive emotions spread up to three degrees of separation, meaning your child, your child’s teacher, and that teacher’s brother can benefit from your own individual happiness. If we all paid attention to our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and aligned them closer with joy, you can easily see how quickly we could change the collective emotional atmosphere.
3 Simple Ways to Turn Your Attention to Joy
Follow these three steps to bring more joy into your life.
1) Release resistance to your natural flow of happiness. Joy is your natural state. Resisting joy is like trying to paddle against the current in a flowing river. When you meditate, practice yoga, or engage in other contemplative activities, you are able to release your unconscious resistance to goodness. In other words, when you regularly quiet and relax yourself, you are able to settle your consciousness down into the deeper parts of your nature that are already happy. You need not force happiness or try to layer it on top of whatever is going on with you. Instead, you must go inside and excavate the joy that is already deep inside. Shedding that which is not joyful will naturally uncover the feelings you seek.
2) Practice gratitude. Gratitude is one of the easiest and most direct routes to happiness. Start and end your day with acknowledging three things you are grateful for, and if possible, share your gratitude with someone else. Try a dinnertime ritual of asking what went well in everyone’s day, or asking each person at the table to say something they are thankful for. When you know you will be sharing your gratitude at the end of a day, you will be more likely to look for things to appreciate. Grateful thoughts resonate at a higher vibration than negative thoughts, so by giving your thanks, you are literally raising the vibration within and around you.
3) Be compassionate. Turning your attention toward joy does not mean turning a blind eye to other people’s suffering; compassion is key. Compassion helps other people to feel understood and socially connected, but also has a positive affect on the person giving the compassion as well. As far as happiness goes, a recent study shows that giving is more valuable than receiving for adults and children alike. While the studies used giving and receiving “treats” to measure happiness levels, gifts in the form of time, compliments, and affection also have a similar impact. So be generous with your love, help other people whenever you can, and at the very least, offer your kindness whenever you are able. Like a boomerang, the compassion you send out will return back to you.
Try It Out
It may seem counterintuitive to focus on yourself in order to help others, but your perspective has the power to create profound change for the better. Don’t believe it? Test it out in the laboratory of your life. Make your own happiness a priority, and you will feel the world around you shift into a higher vibration. It starts with you and ripples outward. In a world that sorely needs it, your attention to joy is a profound gift to the entire world.
By Karson McGinley