How to be Joyful Regardless of Your Circumstances

By Dr. Heather Kneale

What is the feeling of joy?

Is it  the satisfaction of accomplishing  a long term goal only to realize that the feeling of “joy” did not last long? So you move on to the next goal to seek and obtain that feeling again.

Is it the feeling of electricity coursing though your body when buying a new car? Yet, the feeling of joy fades long before the new car smell.

The definition of joy from is:

The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.

True joyful feelings do not just show up. We have to recognize what brings us joy and choose to pay attention to those moments every day.

Finding joy  flourishes within the small everyday things that transpire day-to-day. It  resides inside the happenings of our normal daily routine. Life does not have to be extraordinary or unusual to bring delight.

For example, I have a note that my 10 year old daughter wrote to me on my birthday. It started with “Dear Mommy”…..that alone made my heart melt. She went on to say that she loved me to the moon and beyond!  I have pinned her note prominently on my wall; it brings a grin every time I see or think of it.

Another is thinking of my dad’s sense of humor. He teased everyone. Just remembering his laugh and teasing natural brings a big smile to my face.

One specific moment that gets me laughing out loud was when my father-in-law came  to our new house to make my family dinner. I was very pregnant and uncomfortable. He made a green salad and homemade spaghetti. I was served first and took a bite. It tasted off. I thought it was because I was pregnant and nothing really tasting good; I ended up just playing with my food. My mother-in-law took a big bite of salad after already eating half her plate of spaghetti. She asked if he had washed the lettuce. He confidently answered no explaining  that he just added olive oil to the salad and water to cook the noodles. Upon discussion we discovered that it was not olive oil but dish-soap! The mystery was solved!

Just going about your day provides opportunities to bring joy into your life.

Write a list, collect notes, pictures, or anything in your life that has brought or currently  brings about happiness.  It may be a collection of letters, quotes, and others. Start noticing throughout your day what makes you feel lighter or smile.

Here is a small list of what brings me joy. I hope it gets your creative juices flowing:

  • The sun shining
  • The color of the sunset
  • My dogs, cats, chickens always happy to see me
  • The colors the trees turn during different seasons
  • My significant other joking
  • When I first saw my daughter
  • The day my toddler found my make up (maybe not joyful right away, but it was later)
  • My grandmother forgetting to put the lid on the blender
  • Playing in the rain (yes, I still do!)
  • My daughter singing
  • The beach
  • The sound of the ocean/river/lake
  • Seeing others smile
  • Laughing  (Love to do this one!!)
  • Beautiful music
  • Inspirational stories


Pick out the instances that made you feel lighter, smile, or even laugh out loud.  Find those hidden joyful moments. We all have them.

Chasing the big ticket goals may be important at the time but as far as feeling happy or joyful, the feeling does not last. Yes, we may feel some accomplishment on finishing goals, but does it bring true joy to our lives?  True joy comes from an inner happiness from many small things that have ended up bringing the most pleasure and happiness to our lives. We just have to pay attention and hold tight to those small beautiful moments where joy is waiting to be found.

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