21 Ways to Jump Start Joy

During the last week of 2020 I greeted neighbors with a sing-song, “Happier New Year!”

One replied, “It’s got to get better, right?” to which I responded, “I’m not sure how it can get much worse.”

My husband raised his eyebrows. “Don’t tempt fate,” he warned.

We knew to expect that 2021 would continue the strange Blursdays experience that began in 2020. We also have hope that help is on its way, possibly soon. However, we have watched slack-jawed and wide-eyed as 2021 has already pitched a dramatic tantrum and hurled worse our way.

Like me, you may ride the roller coaster of all the Big Feels: frustration, anger, anxiety, shock, concern, helplessness, exhaustion. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to respond, how even to keep moving forward hour by hour.

Here’s my suggestion: make joy a priority. Stir a heaping spoonful of joy into your morning coffee or tea and sprinkle it on every meal and moment throughout the day. Snack on joy. Toss joy like confetti in each room of your house, in each relationship, in every arena of your life. As counterintuitive as joy may feel in these odd times, that’s exactly what makes joy so important. Practice joy even when you don’t feel it. Consider it a spiritual practice, necessary soul care.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

How do you practice joy, you ask? Check out this list of 21 simple tips to spark joy:

1. Go for a walk.
2. Light a candle.
3. Add a potted plant or a vase of cut flowers to every room.
4. Stand up and stretch. Do some jumping jacks to get the blood flowing.
5. Spend a few minutes on a swing.
6. Diffuse essential oils.
7. Snuggle a furry friend.
8. Drink a glass of water. While you’re at it, splash some water on your face.
9. Bake something. Or make something.
10. Read a book or magazine. Read the Bible.
11. Pray.
12. Phone a friend.
13. Write a thank you note to someone who adds joy to your life.
14. Write a thank you note to yourself.
15. Take a few deep breaths.
16. Journal what you’re grateful for.
17. Commit an intentional act of kindness.
18. Watch clouds. Name each cloud a worry and watch it float away.
19. Draw a picture of yourself as a child absorbed in your favorite activity.
20. Do that thing that made you happy as a child.
21. Turn on some happy music and dance.

To that last point, you may already have a playlist of mood boosting songs. I’ve been asking Alexa to play various upbeat artists as I prepare dinner each night. I did a search for Happy, Feel Good music and offer this list of 21 songs I’ll be dancing to in my kitchen:

1. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Martin Gay and Tammi Terrell
2. “All Star” by Smash Mouth
3. “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors
4. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
5. “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang
6. “Dancing Queen” by ABBA
7. “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida
8. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
9. “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince
10. “Livin on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
11. “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers
12. “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas
13. “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross
14. “I’m On Top Of the World” by Imagine Dragons
15. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift
16. “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M.
17. “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon
18. “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson
19. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
20. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves
21. “You Make My Dreams” by Daryl Hall & John Oates


This is Day 4 of a 7-day writing challenge with Hope*Writers. Today’s prompt is Twenty-One. Follow my Instagram for more.

Cover image by Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay

4 thoughts on “21 Ways to Jump Start Joy

  1. Loved reading this. “Joy” is my word for 2021. Yes, it does seem counterintuitive but i am thinking of it as an intention, conscious choosing and I am trying to record 1 “Joy” bringer, maker, thing each day in my “Grateful” jar. I am also amazed at many times each day I come across the words, “joy”, “rejoice”, “be joyful”. And of course, the verse from Nehemiah 8:10 “do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Thank you Siv. You are a blessing.

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