What I've found is that to be truly happy in life, you have to elevate it to a state of joy. Yes, there is a difference. Happiness is fleeting. Joy is sustainable.

You can slurp down three heaping scoops of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream and "feel" happy. But an hour later you may feel the same way as before.

Joy, on the other hand, is not restricted to an emotion, as happiness is. It's a permanent state of mental, emotional, and even spiritual well-being. It's achieving life satisfaction, balance, peace, and being resilient in the face of adversity. That's joy.

Whether you call it joy or happiness, to strive to reach this state, there are many things a person can do to elevate it.

1. Share your positive experiences.

Studies published in BPS Research have found that sharing the good things that happen in your life can raise happiness levels. In one study, participants who journaled and shared positive experiences with another person at least twice a week were more satisfied with life.

2. Stop striving for perfection.

We all have a tendency to work too much and feel that if we don't do something productive every day, we've somehow failed. Slow down and eliminate the need to strive and be perfect. You'll begin to appreciate and focus on other, neglected priorities that bring you joy.

3. Develop your empathy.

Empathy starts with thinking about other people's circumstances, understanding their pains and frustrations, and knowing that those emotions are every bit as real as our own. This helps you develop perspective, and opens you up to helping others, which also enhances your sense of gratitude and joy.

4. Be grateful.

Start your day by being grateful for what you have. As it turns out, if you make more than $30,000, you earn more than 53.2 percent of Americans. If you make more than $50,000, you earn more than 73.4 percent of Americans. Offer up a little prayer and give thanks, it could be a lot worse.

5. Be patient.

Patience is a virtue not enough people practice in our frantic pace of life. But it helps you relax and rethink when things are snowballing out of control. It helps you see the innocence in other people during those really frustrating moments when you'd like fist to meet wall.

6. Show genuine enthusiasm for others.

Researchers have found that when you respond to good news from a colleague with energy, excitement, curiosity, and enthusiasm, it not only makes that person feel good, it makes you feel more positive. They call it "active and constructive responding (ACR)." An ACR response might be, "That's fantastic! I had no doubts you would get that promotion--let's celebrate!" By showing interest, you'll maintain strong personal relationships and raise your happiness levels in the process.

7. Journal about your positive experiences

Psychologist and best-selling author Shawn Achor told Oprah that you can literally train your brain to be happy and optimistic if you journal three things you are grateful for every day for 21 days in a row. And while you're at it, Achor also told Oprah that if you spend two minutes daily journaling about one positive experience in the past 24 hours, it allows your brain to relive it, and teaches your brain that the behavior matters.

8. Laugh.

Humor helps you think more broadly and creatively, according to psychologists. In one study, they had students solve puzzles after watching a clip of Robin Williams doing standup comedy. Twenty percent more puzzles were solved by sudden insight from students who had watched comedy compared with students who had watched scary or boring videos beforehand. There are other benefits: Laughter releases endorphins into the body--a chemical 10 times more powerful than morphine--with the same exhilarating effect as an intense workout at the gym.

9. Bring more fun to your job.

Science has found that people who have fun on the job are more creative and productive, make better decisions, and get along better with colleagues. Another study discovered that to unlock your creative potential, "go out and play" to lift your mood, and then come back to the problem.

10. Meditate.

For 30 to 60 minutes after you wake up, remove yourself from the noise, clutter, distractions, screaming kids, and busyness of life. Go out into the stillness of the morning, find your favorite spot, close your eyes, breathe through your stomach, and center yourself. Now you're in the position to meditate on the good things of life. Setting aside this little ritual makes the rest of your day seem manageable and brings you peace and joy. You'll notice a difference and a weight off your shoulders.

Published on: Sep 26, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.