This is a challenging time, for everyone. People are separate from loved ones. Work is uncertain. People are sick, some very sick. With stay-at-home orders and businesses shut down, it can seem like everything is upside down. But there are still opportunities to feel joy in the midst of difficulty. And taking time to find that joy can benefit your health and well-being. Here are some tips to finding joy amidst hard times:

  1. Shift your focus.

The good news is there are always fresh opportunities to be happy. Sometimes it’s right in front of you. For whatever reason, you are unable to shift your focus to notice and appreciate it.

Regardless of what is going on around you, you can feel happier, be productive, attract success and enjoy yourself during the process. When you shift your focus and the way you think, your perspective changes. What can you focus on to bring in joy? Try focusing on your senses: sight, smell, taste, touch. Does the smell of fresh coffee bring you joy? Then make some? Fresh baked bread? A massage? Get out your lotion and rub your feet—or someone else’s and swap! There are always opportunities to find joy—take the time to find them.

  1. Add happiness to your life, right now.

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We all dream of being happy someday. Until then, we are overworked, overstressed and under-happy. But what fun is life if we aren’t happy about it?

The good news is, you can add happiness to your life now. Just a few serotonin-producing activities can reduce stress and bring you joy—exercise, mindful eating, focusing on being present with family, counting blessings, keeping a gratitude journal are all ways to add happiness to your life right now.

  1. Take care of small details so self-care can shine.

Being able to take a moment for yourself in order to hit the reset button is something we all need to do every once in a while.

One of the surest ways to let that self-care time shine is to make sure you’re not stressing about miscellaneous, small-ball to-do’s while you’re trying to take care of yourself. Get yourself sorted so that your “me time” can be as effective as possible. So, put in a load of laundry and then take that bubble bath. Fill the dishwasher and then go meditate for 20 minutes.

  1. Get in a joyful state of mind.

A joyful life is the best existence we can hope to achieve. It’s the kind of life that produces positive vibes and feel-good energy, and encourages us to look to the future with high hopes. Pure joy might seem like a fleeting emotion, but even if you only feel it for a moment in time, you can hold onto it. Can you write down all the times you have felt pure joy in the last day, week, month? What is the pattern you notice with things that bring you joy? Is it a family walk or bike ride? Some alone time? Now plan them and seek them out!

  1. Stop worrying.

Happiness works much like love, in mysterious ways. However, science and psychology tell us that brain chemistry alters emotion.

There is a formula to happiness, and it lies in changing thought patterns. Your patterns—what you do and think and say every day—determine how happy you are. It’s got nothing to do with what’s around you, but everything to do with how your brain works—that inner voice. Happiness is not within your grasp because it is, quite literally, within you. So what are some common thoughts you have that bring you down? Is it focusing on your appearance, or worrying about money? Write down 5 positive things about each of those areas when you find yourself spiraling into worry—it can bring you right out of worry mode and into appreciation.

  1. Appreciate the small things.

What if we made it a habit to embrace and celebrate the small things? The daffodil just beginning to bloom, the rain spattered puddles in the street? Real life is happening all around us while we’re waiting for the big thing we hope is going to give us some sort of inner peace, contentment or joy. Often the things that matter most are the small ones.

  1. Laugh more.

Laughing makes you feel good. Try to think about the last time you really laughed? Preoccupied with all of our adult responsibilities, we often don’t laugh as much as we did when we were kids.

We should, though! Laughing has been shown to reduce stress, enhance immunity, improve blood flow and strengthen relationships. So put on some funny movies or play a silly game with your family!

  1. Plan your joy.

We put money in our savings accounts. We take our supplements. We exercise. We hope these precautions will protect us as we age. But as we safeguard our money, bones and blood pressure, we forget to safeguard the one thing that can make a difference in the quality of our lives as we get older: our happiness.

What are the things that make you happy? Is it having dinner at home with your family every night? Having a date with your partner every week? Going on an exotic vacation every year? Make a plan for doing those things and work towards it. Just planning for joy can bring joy.

We hope you enjoyed these! If you have any to add, put them in the comments below!