5 Steps to a Joyful Now - Life as Mrs. Wilson

08 May, 2018

5 Steps to a Joyful Now

(Photo by Whitney Jean Photography)
Going from the depths of depression to the heights of happiness has been the most intense, fervent, and rewarding voyage of my existence. It hasn't come without struggle, or regression, or without a wholehearted effort. So it always surprises me a little when I get asked how I manage to stay so happy all the time - mostly because I was probably the least happy person I knew for that nearly  decade-long fight with depression. Somehow I've managed to find my way out of that darkness and into the greatest joy I've ever known, and I don't think that was random or that it magically happened overnight. As I've taken time to think about how I've gotten to this place of happiness, my answer surprised me. And I thought I'd finally share my answer for those who have asked me this question.

Step 1 -- Make your choice.

Now, if you are in the midst of depression or sadness, I need you to know that I feel for you and I understand the anger and frustration that can come from someone telling you to 'just choose to be happy' - but hear me out.

More and more studies in the world of neuroscience are proving that you can literally rewire your brain through your own conscious thoughts and decisions. As in, you CAN choose what you put in that head space. You choose what power dictates your thoughts. Darkness, or light.

While you do not necessarily have control over the chemical makeup of your body, you DO have control over how long you let the darkness fill your mind. You CAN choose to fight the darkness. You CAN choose. And you WILL beat it.

So the first step to a joyful now -- choose. Make the conscious decision to pursue happiness. Take ownership of your life and that you are the one who decides if you live life or let life happen to you.

Step 2 -- Set limits.

This goes for every aspect of life, but particularly for social media. While I am a huge advocate for the incredible blessings that social media can bring into our lives, I am also keenly aware of how damaging it can be if not used properly.

Limit the time you spend on social media and stick to whatever time limit you've set for yourself. Recognize your triggers, and remove them from your sight when possible. Limit which forms of social media you're on and be aware of what is negatively influencing you. Know why you're logging on, and if it is to distract you from your current thoughts and emotions --- LOG OFF and let yourself feel what you're feeling.

Step 3 -- Spend time in silence.

Whether you pray, meditate, sit silently in nature, or a combination of the three, you have to take time to be silent. I've made it mandatory for myself to take a minimum of 5 minutes a day to meditate. This helps me to stay grounded and centered. I also pray throughout the day, especially when I have bursts of anxiety or sadness. I've found that in those times, the best thing you can do is take a moment to be silent.

Step 4 -- Practice gratitude. 

This has been the absolute biggest game changer in my life. The effects of expressing gratitude are incredible (here's an awesome study on how gratitude effects neural activity)! I personally like to do my gratitude practice on my daily walks with my son, but anything from keeping a gratitude journal to simply verbalizing 5 things you're grateful for every day can and will change your life for the better. Gratitude is the gateway to joy, so make sure you're consciously giving thanks every single day.

Step 5 -- Seek simple joys.

It can be difficult to find anything that brings you joy when you're struggling, which is exactly why you have to start seeking the small things. From reading a good book to having a clean bedroom, beautiful flowers or raspberry lemonade -- seek out the simple joys. Something I did when I found myself succumbing to apathy, was I forced myself to sit down and write 20 things that brought me joy. It took me several hours to come up with the list, but it helped me so much to realize that there really were things in life that brought me joy. If you can find joy in the small things, it makes the big things that much sweeter.


Above all, know that joy is 100% attainable no matter your circumstances, and know that you are absolutely deserving of a joyful now. Don't wait for life to get easier, or things to slow down, or whatever it is that you are telling yourself is keeping you from happiness. Find the root of your negative thoughts and feelings and work from there. The journey from sorrow to joy is not an easy one, but it is more worth it than I can even describe.

I hope these steps can help even just one of you that has asked me about finding joy. They have helped me through the thick of it and continue to help me every day. Don't give up the fight for joy. Don't give up on yourself. Keep going, keep loving, and keep working toward a joyful now. You deserve all the joy in the world, and I promise it's right out there waiting for you, so just reach out and take that first step.