What is a joy list? A joy list is pretty much what it says on the tin.
A list of the things in your life that bring you joy.
Joy. When you look up the definition, you’ll see a sprawling line of positive, happy words. Delight, great pleasure, success. Jubilation, satisfaction, bliss! Radiance, glee and my favourite: triumph.
A joy list should be a list of the things that make you feel all those wonderful positive, squishy emotions from the definition above. A joy list should make you feel good and happy. It should help you feel grounded and most importantly, it should help you to feel grateful.
Should you have a joy list?
Gratitude is good for us. Not only does it help reduce anxiety and stress, it has been proven to help us sleep better and increase our self-esteem. Gratitude changes your brain. Literally. A 2008 study by psychologist Alex Wood in the Journal of Research in Personality showed gratitude can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of depression. It also goes on to show how grateful people have more appreciation for their life and have more positive traits. Searching out joy and creating a joy list, is one way to bring more gratitude into your life.
Sometimes it can be hard to be grateful when we are stressed or anxious. In these moments it feels easier to spiral and to sink into our low feelings. This is where a joy list can help.
You can plot your week to include elements from your joy list. You can plan for joy. Planning for a good life is a great way to not only bring more joy into your days, but also help to create a more sustainable and balanced wellbeing. Life can get on top of us sometimes and a joy list can be a great point of reference when you feel like your drowning. If you’ve already created your joy list, it is so much easier to reach for and implement. It’s much easier to reach for something tried and tested, something that you know will bring you joy. Especially when you don’t feel like it. I can reach out for number 6 on my joy lists with very little effort, yet I know the rewards will be instant and this will make me feel better if I’m having a bad day.
Joy and reflection
A joy list is also a wonderful way to reflect and think about your life and all of the things you’re grateful for. A joy list can allow you to examine your life. Did you find it hard to write? Did the items flow in abundance? Use this as an opportunity to spend some time curating your life. If you’re happy with your list, share it with the world, let them know the things you are grateful for and all the ways you feel joy in your life. If you struggled, don’t worry friend. This means you get to spend time exploring and experimenting. Spend some days planning for joy! Try some new things, steal things from somebody else’s list, try it on for size. Finally, the best thing about a joy list – it doesn’t have to stay the same. It can change and grow and shrink and it can be shaped by the way you change and grow.
My joy list:
- Finding the perfect window seat in a café. Ordering a huge piece of cake and wasting an afternoon watching people go by as I read my book.
- Sitting outside in the Sunshine. Letting the warmth fall on my face and tingle my skin. Come back summer.
- Spending time with people who want to spend time with me. I will always be grateful for the people that make an effort to see me. To spend time with me. I’m thankful for the effort they make to connect with me. They make me feel loved.
- Dogs. Any dog. Quick fuss, pats on the head or snuggles on the sofa. Anytime spent with a four-legged friend is never wasted.
- The beach. I start to get itchy and edgy. When I’ve not been to the ocean in a while, my heart starts to feel a little faded. My eyes turn from blue to grey and I feel like I’ve lost a little hope. I think my limit is 8 weeks without the ocean. That’s when I notice the symptoms. The craving grows and intensifies and when I get my first glimpse, my world turns on its axis and I feel whole again. I reckon I’m due a trip to the beach.
- Trashy boxsets. Warm fires and fluffy socks.
- The noise a bottle of champagne makes when it pops open and the glug sound that follows when it’s poured into a glass.
- Walking. I walk everywhere and I’m so grateful for the green spaces that are minutes away from my front door.
- Fresh flowers. Vases and buckets and jugs full of crisp white flowers.
- The days I spend writing as I stare out of windows and tap at my keys until the sun has set and I’ve let the words from my heart, move to my head and dance on my fingertips.
How to write a joy list
The French call it, joie de vivre. May all of your days be filled with exuberant enjoyment of life. I hope you have fun writing your joy list! If you’ve never written one before, don’t feel daunted, just write the first few things that come into your head. I’ve jotted down some prompts to help you.
- Where do you feel happy?
- Which people make you feel good when you spend time with them?
- When you feel stressed, worried or anxious, where does your mind wish it could be?
- What makes you feel safe?
- What simple things make you smile?
- What parts of the week do you look forward to the most?
- What do you do to relax?
Joy lists lead to adventures and great adventures lead to wonderful stories. Keep telling wonderful stories with your life friend. The world has so much left for you yet.