9 Steps to Joyful Living

Disclaimer: I am no expert on happiness or joyfulness. While I have read numerous books on this topic, I have not done a research project of my own to reach the conclusions presented here.

Let’s start right away. While I have not done academic research on this topic, I have been a student of linguistic and stoic philosophies for the last several years and the combined knowledge of these two philosophies have shaped my own living. Those who know me will probably attest that I do lead a joyful life (some social proof there just in case)

Step Zero: Being Open

OK, you have chosen to continue reading even after reading the disclaimer. That shows that you are open without a lot of reservations. Without that, most of the other points in this article will make no sense. If you are not open, it is clear that you are regurgitating old ideas and recycling them like crazy. Being open to new ideas will expand your horizons.

Honestly, if you are not joyful with what you know AND are not open to new ideas, we have a starting trouble, right?

The rest of the steps are broken down into two main buckets:

A. Your actions | Things where you must choose your actions
B. Your reactions | Things where you must choose your reactions

A. Choosing Your Actions:

1. Reset the thresholds

If you forget everything in this article, just remember to reset the thresholds to the right levels. In general, people have low thresholds for pain and disappointment for any kind and high thresholds for joy.

Today, it might look like this:


When you reset the thresholds, you simply switch the two – meaning have a super low threshold for experiencing joy and a reasonably high threshold for pain or disappointment.


Remember that thresholds are not automatically programmed into your brain when you were born. You could easily reset them at will – like right now!!

Related Reading: The bar to be joyful

2. Extraordinary Effort without Extraordinary Attachment to Results

The general way people think is that if they are “lucky” they will have to put in “ordinary effort” that will result in “extraordinary results.” You see you might have someone in your network for whom it appears like that’s the way it turned out – ordinary effort leading to extraordinary results.

Well, that can happen in movies and soap operas.

A better model is to go with “extraordinary effort” without extraordinary attachment to results. Keep this attitude for long enough and sooner than later as you start accumulating valuable accomplishments, you will reach a stage where you will automatically see ordinary effort leading to extraordinary results.

Until then, you don’t need to postpone being joyful – journey is where all the magic is.

3. Discover joy in everyday things

The problem stems from the media. When a nicely crafted advertisement tells a great story in 30 seconds to show you that you will be joyful when you buy “that” thing, sooner than later you will start believing that you need “that” thing to be happy. A void is created without “that” thing in your life.

Remember that you have a choice.

You CAN enjoy the advertisement but choose not to fall trap for it. In fact, you can go one step further – you can choose to DISCOVER joy in everyday things that you so totally take for granted. It will change the way you look at life.

4. Spread Joy to Everyone You Meet

A genuine smile when you meet someone will most likely lift the spirits of the other person. Don’t fake it unless you are meeting an idiot who can’t see through it. If not anything, start smiling because they say it’s good for your health anyway.

Spread joy everywhere all the time and by sheer statistical logic, some of it is bound to come back and find you 🙂

B. Choosing Your Reactions:

1. Shorten the Rebound Time

If you are moving, sooner than later you will fall down – not once but many times during the rest of your life. The real question is – “How fast can you rebound?”

Being in the “funk” mode will result in one thing – giving you license for inaction. Nobody can make progress without action and without reasonable progress, joy may be in short supply.

2. Stop self-torture

When someone pokes at you, it might hurt you.

How about you doing a replay when you are alone – poking yourself so that you can relive how you felt when you were poked a while ago?

How about you keep reliving the first poking experience when you are alone (sometimes even after years) long after the person who poked you has forgotten about it and moved on?

It’s insane, isn’t it?

Not when you are engaged in it.

Again, it’s a choice – you can continue to torture yourself or say goodbye to that habit once and for all.

3. Forgive AND Forget quickly

Forgiving is a gift first to yourself (so that you don’t keep poking yourself) and then to the person who you are forgiving.

You have to go one step further AND forget the incident that led you to this situation in the first place. Forgiving will remove the bitterness and forgetting will clear the mind space to make way for better things in life.

4. Celebrate victories of others

If you don’t get into the habit of genuinely celebrating victories of others, you might be tempted to start comparing their “good situations” to “your bad situations”

It is not a big ask. You expect others to celebrate your victories and all you need to do is to reciprocate that feeling.

Think about it. If you are joyful only when you experience victories, those times are far fewer than victories for people all around you.

Why rob yourself of all those free additional opportunities to be joyful?

In summary:

Steps for joyful living involve being open and choosing your actions and reactions with care | Tweet This.