I have a hunch that joy is something you want for your family. I think every parent does! After all joy makes life beautiful.
Yet sometimes in the mess and chaos of family life that sense of joy can seem out of reach.
We wake up to squabbling children, struggle with financial worries, or step on a piece of Lego.
Is it possible to cultivate joy in our noisy homes? I truly believe the answer is yes. We might need to adjust our understanding of joy, but I know it is possible to live a joyfully in the midst of the mess and chaos of family life.
Joyful families deal with cranky kids, money struggles, and stray Lego bricks just like everyone else. Yet underneath there is a foundation of joy that sustains them through all of life’s ups and downs.
- Joy is deeper than having fun together (although that is important).
- Joy is more than the temporary high of happy events (although those are fun).
- Joy comes from within.
And we can take action to cultivate that joy.
Disclaimer: Obviously this doesn’t apply to those struggling with clinically depression, or similar medical conditions, which I am not qualified to tackle.
How to Cultivate Joy in Your Family
Here’s a list of powerful actions you can start right now to cultivate joy. You don’t have to do these all at once, but you should try most of them sooner rather than later. Pick one and start today.
1. As always it starts with you
Children do as they see, not as they’re told. If you have a joyful attitude towards life, then your family will probably will do the same. Is this something you need to work on? The article How to Create Joy Today: 7 Tips for a Happy Life from Tiny Buddha might help.
2. Spend time together
Nothing leads to joy as efficiently as connecting with other human beings, cultivating relationships, and bonding with others. Spending time with the people you love is one of the easiest ways of cultivating joy. Make it a priority to schedule time with the people you love. Mark it as your most important item of the day.
3. Give out hugs
Hugs are FUN way to put the JOY in your day.
More importantly according to The Happiness Project, you need to hold a hug for at least six seconds to get the oxytocin and serotonin really flowing. Those are the chemical messengers that help bonding and make you feel good. So hug your loved ones everyday AND hold those hugs to get the most out of them.
4. Encourage Contentment
Joy and contentment are closely related. Joy comes naturally when we are content with what we already have. Nurture contentment in your family and joy will follow closely behind.
5. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude has magical powers. Learning to be grateful for what’s in our lives and for the people who love us is a powerful way to nurture joy. It helps us to appreciate what we have, what we have received, and the people who have helped us. Read more
6. Help Others
Is there any better feeling than helping a fellow human being? Not really. And it’s not too hard here’s some ideas
7. Unplug and get outside
Go outside with your family each day. Take the time to watch a sunset or sunrise. If you’re lucky enough to live near some woods, or a mountain, or a creek, go exploring. Make Land Art or build a fort with your kids. Think of time outside as time invested in nurturing joy.
8. Slow down
Life is a journey not a destination. Take time to enjoy the journey. Going slowly helps to reduce stress and frees up space for you to spend time with each other. Here are some tips to help you slow down as a family.
9. Make time for play
Have you ever watch your kids play? They can spend hours in games of make-believe and wonder. This kind of activity is a gateway to joy.
Play with children. Lose yourself in the play. Be a superhero, a pirate, or even an alien. Have a joyous time. Make your kids squeal in delight, and join in. Here’s some ideas to get you started.
10. Encourage Laughter
Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get remains with you even after the laughter subsides.
Shared laughter helps bind families together. All emotional sharing builds strong connections, but sharing laughter and play adds joy into the mix. So go ahead and bring some silliness into your family on a daily basis.
A Joy Challenge for You
After you read this, promise yourself you’ll try one of these suggestions. Tell someone else or write it down to make the commitment official.
Then over the next week try it out.
By the end of the week, I bet you’ll see a difference in the joy levels of your home.
Your family needs it AND so do you.