The Well: Intentional Cultivation of Joy

  |   Wellness

Joy is one of our most powerful human emotions.

Joy is not synonymous with “happiness,” which tends to be a more complex and contextual experience. Rather, “joy” refers to pleasure and delight, perhaps even bliss! According to the Mental Health America (Create Joy and Satisfaction | Mental Health America (, “joy” can help to lower anxiety, decrease stress, hormones, support myocardial health, and may even lessen pain. Every one of us as the capacity for both joy and for happiness. Each is something to be accessed and consciously cultivated rather than pursued per se.

Importantly, a compassionate, gentle but persistent effort is required to build this practice into your life.

Here are three Micro-step ideas to intentionally invite joy into your daily life:

  1. Do one thing in your morning intentionally that brings you joy. Taking time for what makes us happier first thing in our day can help set the tone for a less stressful day ahead. This may be a short walk, mindful eating of a healthy breakfast, time with your pets or kids, listening to music, or meditating. Importantly, notice and savor these good feelings so your body and mind remember them.
  2. Find joy in the small things that occur throughout your day. “Joy triggers” can be very small moments rather that big occasions or major life celebrations. Thrive Reset, a tool based on neuroscience that shows that we can course-correct in just 60-90 seconds. When we listen to music that we love, look at pictures that touch our heart or make us smile, read inspirational words, or whatever may trigger joy for your, these moments of resetting and recharging bring perspective, foster resilience, and shift our physiology towards a more balanced, regulated state.
  3. Gratitude to change your attitude. Whether at the start of your day (or work shift) or before laying your head down to rest, take a few moments to write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for each day. Whether we reflect upon big things (“I am alive and healthy”) or small (“I am grateful for my kitties”), these intentional moments shift our brains and bodies into towards healthier ways of being. The use of daily gratitude practices has been proven to be a useful tool in fortifying our holistic health and well-being.

By Dr. Sonja Olson – Dr. Olson is the co-chair, along with Dr. Danielle Alleman, of the WSVMA Wellbeing Committee. To find similar content, sign on to the WSVMA Community and join the group, The Well.


Posted November 18, 2022