What does joy mean to you? As Thrive Global’s founder, Arianna Huffington, wrote, “the origins of the word ‘joy’ date back to the 13th century, coming from the Old French word joie, meaning pleasure, delight, bliss. Joy is also associated with the Latin word gaudere, or rejoice; meaning joy is also an action we can take. And unlike happiness, which can sometimes seem like a far-off, distant, end-state, joy is about being in the moment.”
Over the course of the past month, I had the privilege of reading and listening to stories of joy from nearly 700 global banking employees. Each story was a snippet into what brought joy into someone’s life — anecdotes about their morning routines, time spent with family and friends, or simply a cup of coffee. As I read this list of stories, it was amazing to see so many similar themes appear across the world, coming from Miami, Mexico City, Dubai, Dublin, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, and beyond!
I have always been someone who loves to smile and I believe that smiles are contagious and cause immense joy. And that’s the great thing about joy — it’s also contagious. According to sociologist Nicholas Christakis, “When you make positive changes in your own life, those effects ripple out from you and you can find yourself surrounded by the very thing you fostered.” Not only is it important to choose joy, but it is just as important to share it with others.
How Employees Choose Joy
Dance to your favorite music.
I read tons of stories about movement, and furthermore, how people find joy through dancing. Did you know that there are a multitude of dances out there, including Kathak, one of the eight ancient Indian dances? Not only did this exercise bring me immense joy, but it gave me insight into the world around me.
So many stories of joy included reflection and journaling. On a most basic level, journaling helps you become more aware of your needs and desires. Writing down thoughts, moods, feelings, or simple observations for 15 or 20 minutes each day connects you to your inner self, which is a powerful first step in understanding your current mental state. This self-awareness increases emotional intelligence and as you begin to understand yourself better, you’re better equipped to understand the needs and desires of others. I myself have started this process by sitting in my reading nook and writing a few lines down each night.
Whether this is through religious or spiritual efforts, or by pausing for a moment in nature, gratitude comes with so many benefits. According to research from UCLA, regularly expressing gratitude literally changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier. One way you can practice gratitude is by simply writing down a few things you’re grateful for before going to bed. Sharing your gratitude list with friends can amplify its power — again, the difference between feeling gratitude and practicing gratitude.
Understand that life’s low points are temporary.
We all have faced, and will continue to face, challenging moments in our lives. It is important to remember that this too shall pass. If you are feeling stuck, know that you are not alone. Over two hundred million people are affected by anxiety on a global scale and there are so many ways to help you work through the tough times.
Get some fresh air.
Wherever you find nature, fresh air promotes a sense of happiness and contentment. According to Physio Falmouth Plus, serotonin promotes a sense of happiness and well-being so the more fresh air you have will help to significantly boost your mood. These instances of joy can lower anxiety, decrease stress hormones, promote heart health, and even lessen pain, according to Mental Health America.
What this activity taught me is that work is just one part of our otherwise very rich lives. This blog started as a “work activity,” yet it has grown to be so much more. As study author Daniel Sgroi put it, “happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.” Although work is only one aspect of my life, I love the moments where my job brings me closer to Thrive’s company values, and also my own. With each story of joy, I saw that wellbeing is how you set yourself up to be the best version of yourself each day.