I wasn't exactly sure what I would write about when I decided to do a series about joy. I just knew it felt significant, a small way to bring back some balance to what felt like the constant bombardment of everything that's going wrong with the world. With depression affecting about 8 to 12 percent of the population globally according to the World Health Organisation's white paper on mental health in 2012, with numbers rising each year, it feels like finding happiness has never been more serious business.
Every week for the past seven weeks, we explored ways to bring more satisfaction into everyday life, from examining and clearing out our external environment, to attempting the same with our diet, then finding ways to incorporate more exercise into our regime and the many different alternative therapies available — all that to manifest a greater sense of well-being. Taking this approach unveiled the many systems at play, that all exist within us and continuously work behind the scenes to impact our experiences and optimum for happiness. The good thing is, by acknowledging these different methods, we have the power to know that if something's not working, we can always try another course.
Here are some other truths I discovered on this joy crusade:
1. Joy is a choice and joy starts with me.
You need to love yourself enough to make joy your purpose. Spend some time on introspection to gain a better awareness of where your joy tank meter is and take the effort to fill it up. When you're happy, you can't help but want to share that feeling and this naturally elevates those around you.
2. There are so many avenues available to elevate our spirits!
If you constantly find yourself making excuses that restrict the amount of joy in your life, you need to ask yourself why. Whatever your temperament, mobility, interests or ailments, there is always a way to feel better. Read the previous articles in this series for more options.
3. Your environment includes the people you surround yourself with.
In the words of motivational speaker and self-help guru, Jim Rohn: "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." So choose those who make positivity a tenant in their lives.
4. Joy for the sake of joy alone doesn't last. We need meaning.
"Striving to find meaning in one's life is the primary motivational force in man" said Victor Emil Frankl, Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, who dedicated his life to the understanding and promotion of meaning. I can't help but agree. It gives everything a deeper significance and therefore deepens the sense of joy.
5. How does one take joy to the next level? Give.
It's mathematics really. How do we amplify joy? Multiply it! When we do something for ourselves alone, it benefits one, when we do something for others, many more people stand to derive happiness. There have been numerous studies — ranging from Michael Norton's study on giving to Jordan Grafman's investigations on the human brain and altruistic behaviour — that imply that spending money on others makes people happier than spending it on themselves. So, why not give it a go and test this theory?
It is in this spirit that the Buro team is currently in Nepal for a very special editorial project — #BuroGivesBack. To find out more about this project that benefits the children at Nepali NGO Children & Youth First, click here. You'll see that joy is indeed a gift that keeps on giving.
To view more stories in The Joy Series, click here.