Within assisted living communities under the Bethesda Senior Living Communities umbrella, we strive to support our residents through enriching activities to help regain some of that lost joy. Assisted living communities can be a great source of encouragement and togetherness. But it also helps to know how you can rediscover joy on your own.
Joy and happiness may be used interchangeably, but happiness is rather a symptom of joy. Happiness gives you all those warm and fuzzy feelings, whereas joy is a consistent sense of contentment. According to studies, joy should rather be described as a state of mind or being, as opposed to a feeling or emotion.
While it may seem like finding joy later in life is unattainable, it can actually be the perfect time to recapture it. You have more time on your hands, which leaves you free to pursue activities to reignite those inner feelings and thoughts responsible for creating joy. A few simple methods should do the trick.
Exercise is a quick way to boost those happy hormones and improve your overall sense of well-being and contentment. During exercise, hormones such as endorphins, dopamine, endocannabinoid and adrenaline are released. This release is temporary, but the effect is enduring when it comes to contentment and confidence. Both of these can directly impact your sense of joy.
When you're in the pursuit of meaningful tasks, you discover self-actualization. In your Christian walk, there's great emphasis on pursuing meaning above pleasure. This doesn't mean you shouldn't do pleasurable things; it just means that your focus should be on meaningful tasks, as they have a more enduring effect on your overall well-being. To pursue a meaningful life:
Learning something new allows us to escape our thoughts for a little while. When we're focused on a task, we create space from our feelings, and this can reduce our levels of anxiety and stress. When this happens, our overall sense of calm and contentment increases. Furthermore, learning something new also gives a sense of accomplishment, which has a positive effect on confidence and well-being. Learning when you're older also stimulates cognitive function and repair. This can include studying a course through an academic institution, learning a new sport or physical activity or practicing a musical instrument.
As you get older, you have a far better understanding of the things you enjoy. For instance, you know whether you like a nice hot cup of tea or whether you prefer a strong cup of coffee. You also know whether you like a brisk walk in the morning more than an afternoon swim. When it comes to everyday leisure activities, choose the ones that spark the most joy in your life and do more of those. If they include the sense that you're at play, even better. Do arts and crafts without an end piece in mind, or write a short story without a script. Play with your grandchildren or a lively puppy. Take a few moments out of each day to engage in fun activities.
One of the biggest energy drains we encounter on a daily basis is negativity. In an assisted living community, this can include participating in negative conversations or simply spending too much time focusing on negative world events. While it's important to acknowledge difficult situations and what's happening around you, it's equally as important to know when to take a step back. A break from negative news can help you build up positive energy again, which is vital for contentment and joy.
Gratitude reduces stress and anxiety by calming the mind. This leads to a more peaceful state, which allows you to experience a state of joy.
With age, we realize that joy is sometimes fleeting and we may not experience it every day. Sometimes, joy may even escape us for weeks or months at a time. You may reach a point where joy seems unattainable. If you're afraid of opening yourself up to experience joy because of the possibility of pain or loss, take it one step at a time.
Try not to preempt this journey, and make the most of each day. There are hidden pockets of joy in every day. In your assisted living community, be that spark of joy for someone else. Who knows? A little of that joy might come back to you.