Monitor your joy bursts
How often in a normal day do you feel really happy?
Like when you laugh uproariously, or look deeply into the eyes of someone you love or taste the deep flavor of a great wine?
Bursts of joy were regularly available in our evolutionary environment; one way to measure whether you are achieving your happiness potential is to determine how often you experience them in the normal run of your life.
Maximum happiness = lots of joy bursts
When your happiness level is up towards its maximum, these experiences are common throughout your day.
You may still feel blue at times or cruise along without feeling much, because our emotions naturally cycle through the day and year. But when you are maximizing the amount of happiness you feel day in and day out, you will routinely have lots of those wonderful highs.
Happiness most affected by small events
One of the most important findings of happiness research is that we tend to over-estimate the long term emotional impact of major events in our life such as graduation, marriage, having kids, divorce, job promotion, or residential relocation.
Such turning points do affect us significantly, but not nearly as much as the cumulative impact of smaller day-to-day events, which we tend to ignore.
Your joyshift practice will change that. It moves your focus away from the major events of your life to your daily routine which is where you can earn your biggest happiness boosts. Imagine a continuous series of little lifts throughout your normal day.
You wake up in the morning and feel rested. You catch yourself smiling while you are making breakfast. You savor your morning coffee, consciously taking pleasure in its rich flavors. You walk outside, and rejoice in the simple feel of the morning sun on your face. You have a regular stream of emotional tonics from dawn to dusk. That is the way nature intended you to live.
Do this quick exercise now
If the last 24 hours was roughly representative of your current lifestyle and did not involve exceptional events (like your annual vacation), then think back over that period and write down (in your journal!) all the moments where you experienced a burst of delight. Take a moment to do that right now. Write down your responses.
I’ve asked many people to report how many joy bursts they experience in an average day, and most report “not many”. They get few emotional lifts in their average day.
How about you? Did this little test indicate the same for you? Lots of joy bursts or very few?
If like most people you can’t report many happiness lifts in your average day, the good news is that you can get them. Joyshift is designed to bring many small moments of joy to your day.
But this is easier said than done.
Getting small uplifts requires a system
The power of our existing habits and daily routine is a formidable barrier even to getting daily small doses of happiness essentials.
Motivational science shows that most people need a systematic support to make even such minor happy changes, and my experience with Joyshift confirmed that research.
I discovered that without support structure I too would fail in my ability to make regular small changes to the run of my day. So did most of my Joyshift students. So a big part of the Joyshift program aims to help you tweak your life in small ways to get a steady stream of daily joy bursts.
Before you start the program there is one more easy test that will really open your eyes to your happiness level. The next post describes it.