Joy is on my mind because I just finished celebrating the first two days of Sukkot. That’s a Jewish holiday where we build huts topped with corn stalks and bamboo in our backyards and then hang out in them for eight days, making sure to shake a certain kind of citrus fruit and palm leaves once a day. I mean, just that description gives me joy. What a crazy holiday. Mandatory fort-building and fruit-shaking!
On many days, it’s hard to feel deeply joyful in this stress-filled, hectic world we live in, but on Sukkot, it’s a little easier. Another name for Sukkot is “Time of our Joy” or Zman Simchateinu in Hebrew. It’s just hard to spend hours and hours hanging out in a backyard fort with your closest friends and family, shaking flora, without unleashing at least a bit of inner joy.
As I was thinking about Sukkot, I realized that many of the things that brought me so much joy during the holiday are simple steps that we can all do more often to increase our joy. I wanted to share them with you:
7 Steps for Experiencing More Joy
1. Be creative – Building and decorating the sukka is a fun family project every year.
2. Hang out with friends and family – We had seven festive meals in a row, ranging from 12 people to just the four of us. That was hours of laughter, chatting and deep connection packed into three days.
3. Play outside – We spent hours sitting out in the sukka, talking and eating. Since we don’t use electronic devices or drive on the holiday, we also spent hours playing in our yard – kickball, football, ultimate, etc . . . and walked a couple of miles every day to synagogue and friends’ houses.
4. Tell stories – Sharing personal stories and stories from Torah and Jewish history are a big part of our mealtime conversations.
5. Be a part of something bigger than yourself – It brings me joy knowing that we are sharing with our children something that our ancestors have done for thousands of years.
6. Be generous – We had a total of about 25 people in and out of our house for meals, sleepovers and playdates in the last three days.
7. Sing – We sang around the table at most of our meals and it was so much fun!
In my travels I’ve learned that having more joy in your life helps you be healthier. In fact, positive emotions and laughter in particular have been shown to have positive health benefits like:
o Reduce stress hormones and their negative effects – like increased blood pressure and cholesterol.
o Can lower blood sugar.
o Can boost production of immune cells and antibodies.
o Can increase endorphins, which help reduce desires for comfort foods.
As I’ve written in past posts, you’re also more likely to eat well and exercise when you are feeling connected to how good life is. So, bringing more joy into your life is a great boost for all your health efforts, in addition to being just plain fun.
What about you? What brings you joy? How could you incorporate some of the seven steps listed above into your life this week? What is one thing that you could do this week to bring more joy into your life? It could be big or small.
I’d love to hear! Comment below or shoot me an email at janette@HealforRealNow.com
To Your Healthy Future,