Joy is one of those elusive things most of the year, but is suddenly abundant in the holiday season. If you aren't one of those holly-jolly-Mofo's - don't despair! I've got some small ways to incorporate joy into your day.
Consider starting a gratitude practice. I know, I know - it seems lame. But hear me out. There have been times in races when I've been in that deep pit of self loathing for not having trained harder, or angry about every punk passing me. There have also been times in races when I've been elated and thrilled to have the opportunity and privilege to do such an activity. I don't have a way to measure this beyond telling you how I felt during the experiences, but it's not rocket science. I was happier and enjoyed myself more when I was feeling grateful, even while in pain.
This is an effective skill to put to use during competitive events in the moments where you want to turn into a monster. Now to incorporate this into every day... put it in your training log. Maybe you keep your activities on Strava, or good old fashioned pen and paper. Whatever your tracking medium - add some gratitude. It doesn't have to be anything extraordinary. There are days I am grateful the cat didn't shred the toilet paper, or I'm grateful humans decided cups with handles were a thing. Seriously. It doesn't need to be elaborate, or fancy. Just get into the habit of recognizing you are grateful for something and record it somewhere.
Now, if you want the rocket science behind gratitude, check out these articles: Forbes, Harvard Medical School, Psychology Today.
Here's another idea; get outdoors. A walk around the block. Have your lunch/snack outside away from work whenever you can. Catching a little bit of vitamin D isn't a bad idea. If you must be stationary, go for bare minimum. Open a window or stand in front of one and close your eyes. Take a couple deep breaths and do your best to relax. Another alternative is to bring some greenery indoors. Try a snake plant. They are just about possible to kill. After this smoky ( for us west-coasters) season, who couldn't do with a bit of fresh air, right?
POWER OUTFIT! Find wearables in your favorite colors, patterns, or brands that make you feel powerful. It's a good idea to incorporate some items you can wear to work. We can't all get away with showing up to work in a race kit, so having a couple items that are meaningful outside of sports wear doesn't hurt. I have a couple bracelets that bring me to a time and place of happiness when I think about them. Travel souvenirs are a great way to do this, jewelry or accessories to associate to a pleasurable memory is a perfect mini-escape.
Some things to consider when you look at your power outfit. What gives it the power? What do the items symbolize? Are they attributes you aspire to? What image is the brand feeding you, and what does it inspire in you? Is this something you can incorporate into your life more?
Moving right along...
Smell smells. It sounds dorky, but one of my favorite things to do is go to the candle aisle and smell things. Reading the label and then smelling it keeps me focused, the name of the scent and then the actual scent. I find that I pay close attention when I am sniffing. Fairly often I am reminded of a memory, sometimes ones I didn't even know I had. Scent science is interesting and weird. I haven't tried any race-day scent rituals, but it might be worth investigating.
Set boundaries. This is one of the fool proof ways to find joy. Setting boundaries with yourself and others keeps you on track with your goals. When you set boundaries, you are prioritizing one thing over another. You are making a concerted effort to keep your eye on the prize, and that feels good. So when your co-worker shows up with treats, you can politely decline when you remember you are prioritizing fresh fruits over sweets and treats. Do you stress-spend? This is a big hurdle for me, and I have to consistently work on it, or else find myself in debt. To keep my spending habit in check, I consider wether to not it is necessary, if yes, I then consider alternatives we might already have, if I can't think of an alternative, then I go for it. For example; I wanted to stop supporting the fast fashion industry. I wanted to support ethical, bio-friendly clothing. I did some research and chose a few brands that I would be able to chose from. The prices of these items is more than I would typically spend, which helped me keep my spending in check. It also forced me to really consider if I needed the items or not. This boundary of spending responsibly has helped me save money, while also supporting beneficial industry standards. Win-win. This also inspired me to get creative with the items I already had too.
Music - Before you head into a day at work, an appointment your dreading, or any other less-than-fun experience, listen to your favorite song, or any song that feels appropriate for the moment. If you'd like to change the moment - change the music. Music is a very powerful tool, like a power outfit, a power song has that extra OOMPH that other songs just don't have. Pick as many songs as you can for different feelings you are seeking out. Feeling frisky? Find a song that gets you in the mood. Looking for a work out boost? Associating a song with a feeling can be a useful way of processing an emotion. Use with caution, if like me, you are sensitive to music, limit your consumption to avoid mood swings :) Like a good movie sound track, music has the power to amplify for better or worse - choose wisely.
Well friends - that's my short list for tiny joys to smoosh into your day. There are countless ways to incorporate tiny joys into the day, leave me some comments with your own ideas!