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Keeping Joy in the Journey! (Boost Mood and Increase Happiness)

Dec 23, 2020
Debbie Harbinson MHI, RN, HNB-BC

We are all aware that nursing care and most of our personal world is incredibly different since March 2020. However, what has not changed is that internal spark of joy deep down within you that’s still looking for the next moment it can use to help you flourish, even during a time like this.

I’m Debbie Harbinson MHI, RN, HNB-BC, owner of Harbinson Wellness Solutions, and I recently hosted an event with Trusted Health to discuss the benefits of joy, and how to seek joyful opportunities in your everyday life. If you missed the event, you can read our recap of it below, along with the most important takeaways. You will gain a greater awareness of joyful practices, along with ideas on how to integrate them into the various moments of your day.

You can watch the full event recording below!


How to Find Joy in Your Day-to-Day

“If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.” ~ Carlos Santana


Benefits of feeling more joy

  • promotes a healthier lifestyle
  • boosts immune system
  • fights stress and pain
  • supports longevity

Start with a smile

Research has shown that a genuine smile leads others to believe that you have unselfish intentions. People want to hang around people who will be socially cooperative. So, essentially, your smile can be your magnet to attract friends.

Mirror neurons work as a part of a process called “embodied simulation,” where the act of internally simulating what others feel or desire involves very basic and unconscious neurological mechanisms. Simulation is not an intentional act, then, but an intrinsic property of our brain.

What does this mean? If you force yourself to smile on the outside, your brain can’t help but feel a little happier on the inside; the physical manifestation of the internal sentiment reinforces that sentiment, whether it was there to begin with or not.

woman smiling keeping joy in the journey

Then laugh

“Laughter is an instant vacation!” ~ Milton Berle


Laughter has been shown to increase heart-rate variability and circulation, thus improving mood and putting us in a better state. Additionally, vagus nerve stimulation often leads to laughter as a side effect, suggesting that they are connected and influence one another. 

Prime and train your laughter muscle by:

  • Looking at your surroundings with curiosity
  • Surrounding yourself with people who easily laugh
  • Enjoying the play of children and animals
  • Remembering past funny experiences
  • Watching movies and programs which make you laugh
  • Fully experiencing laughter — When you laugh, go for it, laugh out loud!

Next, practice of mirthful mindfulness

You can create a mirthful (merry or amusing) state by maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your pleasant thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment… without judgement.

Once you’re in this state, you can:

  • Notice your breath
  • Feel the chair or floor under you
  • Become aware of the feeling of circulation in your hands
  • Bring attention to your sense of smell
  • Listen to any sounds echoing around you
  • Feel the air moving across your skin
  • See colors and shapes behind your closed eyelids
  • Recall a person, place or image of unconditional love and acceptance
  • Focus on your awareness of the colors, smells, sights, sounds to this recall of a person, place or image of unconditional love and acceptance, notice any feelings of peace or comfort

Once you’ve imagined any or all of these sensations—along with the visualization of unconditional love—focus on any gratitude you may notice in your life as well as how this makes you feel. 

Pay attention to these feelings of gratitude for a few moments, or better yet, 10 minutes, if you have that amount of time available. Allow your visualization to become heartfelt before taking a deep breath and bringing yourself back to the present moment. Thank the visualization and know you can always experience it at any time!

“Where there is love, there is joy.” ~ Mother Teresa


So, how can you keep this awareness of joy going throughout the day?

By connecting and savoring your why (why you are following the path you are on, what brings you joy, day to day), your life experiences, people in your life, nature around you, all animals, and above all else… the LOVE you have for yourself!

“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as beautiful as you'd ever imagined.” ~ Rumi

Looking for More Resources?

For more resources focused on mental and emotional wellbeing, check out Trusted’s Resources for Mental Health & Emotional Support