It took me 25 years to realize the secret to unlocking joy.
Surprisingly, it was the simplest answer I could have ever thought of.
The secret is to slow down.
For most of my life I’ve been a do-more kind of guy. It’s the behavior I learned growing up. I’m now working every day to balance that out, because the do-more attitude is a stressful lifestyle.
Whether it was doing more shots, eating more food, talking to more girls, the theme has always been there in my life.
The sad part about that is why I was living that mentality. It came from an inherent dissatisfaction with the way things were at any given moment.
Not feeling great at a party (used to have really bad social anxiety)? Let’s take another shot.
Not feeling emotionally balanced? Let’s eat as much food as possible to avoid those feelings.
Not comfortable with myself or my romantic life? Let’s keep looking outwards, trying to meet different girls, in hopes that I will find someone who would make me feel good.
But the truth is, the good feelings aren’t outside. They’re inside, waiting to be unlocked.
This leads me to my point.
Two skills that will lead you to find more joy are to 1) develop the skill of uncovering joy and 2) develop the skill of hardwiring joy into your brain.
The reason it’s called uncovering joy is because joy is already there inside you, it’s just covered up. The key to uncovering it is to remove all the barriers that keep you from joy: stress, suppressed emotions, and most importantly a lack of slowing down.
If you slow down enough, joy will arise. That’s what happens in meditation. You sit still for long enough and things in your body start to lift off of you. Stress dissipates. Suppressed emotions come up and are able to leave (yes, they must be felt in order for them to leave).
The key here is that by becoming more still, you create the potential for joy to arise.
Hardwiring joy into your Brain
A second key component to experiencing more joy is to be intentional about cultivating joy. You have to WANT joy to arise, and you have to be intentional about creating the conditions for it to happen!
If you’re not intentional about it, you’re rolling the dice.
By creating the conditions in your life to cultivate joy consistently, such as a meditation practice where you focus on gratitude, over time you’ll experience more joy.
Consequently, as you experience it more and become more familiar with it, you start to hardwire joy into your brain. Then, just like magic, your brain starts to create it more often!
Gradually, with practice, you can change your brain to experience more joy and less of those uncomfortable states.
It’s a wonderful cycle once you get the train moving in the right direction.
What does your joy practice look like? I’d love to hear in the comments below!