Once-a-Day Prescriptions for Joy

By Keith Varnum

1.   Act whimsically at least once a day.

Do something that is outrageous or totally out of character, out of the box, not the “usual” you. Invite spontaneity. Do something meaningless, without any purpose or value—just because you feel like it, just because it’s fun! Surprise yourself!

Don’t dress outside in. Dress inside out. Let your spirit define “who you are” rather than the outside world. Don’t rely on external image—clothing, hairstyle, status symbols—to tell people who you are. Wear your inner self proudly and let it attract what is most harmonious to you.

Expand your playground, your arena for self-expression. Practice harmless and minor outrages. Seek a larger freedom in your life. In the unexpected comes the joy of feeling truly alive.

2.   Throw away one item a day.

Or give it away to Goodwill or someone who will actually use it. For every unused item you discard, you create the space for a truly useful item to come into your world.

Clear the decks! A major cause of loss of energy is lots of “stuff” that accumulates around us. Schedule time to keep the piles—physical and mental—from building up. If you don’t, the backlog will sap your energy and overwhelm you. You may think that doing Feng-Shui takes too much time, but creating open space in your world actually frees up more time and energy to attract the people and opportunities that will really satisfy your heart and soul.

3.    Every day forgive one act of yours or someone you know.

By living a life of conscious self-acceptance and learning to forgive ourselves, we become able to forgive others. The gift of forgiveness is for ourselves, not the person who caused us pain. By forgiving, we are taking back the control that we have given over to those who we feel have hurt us.

By learning to forgive others, we give ourselves the gift of freedom from the past. Forgiveness loosens the debilitating constraints of anger, resentment, cynicism and despair—and frees our heart to swell with joy. When you feel someone has harmed you, try to understand the situation by putting yourself in his or her shoes. Stop holding others and yourself hostage. Accept our human tendency to make mistakes and move forward.

4.   Meet one new person a day.

Every human being has a unique story to tell—and a special gift for you. Every personal life story you hear expands your own personal horizon of possibilities. Even a one-minute encounter with a stranger enlarges your universe.

5.   Discover one new shape in Nature every day.

As you encounter shapes and forms that are new to your awareness each day, you increase the possibilities for re-shaping your world. As you expand your experience of the infinite spectrum of ways life expresses itself on the planet, you add to the range of choices and options available to you.

6.   Every day ask one fresh question of life you’ve never asked before.

The quality and scope of one’s life is determined by the quality and scope of one’s questions. Questions open doors, invite change, welcome new opportunities. Question the past—liberate your future!

7.   Each day eat one new food you’ve never eaten before.

Or mix foods and ingredients that you’ve never combined before. Or eat a type of cuisine you’ve never enjoyed before. As you open to fresh culinary experiences, you also open to fresh social and spiritual adventures.

8.   Change one old entrenched attitude each day.

Take ownership of your attitude. You control your attitude. It’s not something that you are genetically or environmentally stuck with. You can choose your attitude.

Avoid all-or-nothing thinking. When we fall into the trap of the all-or-nothing mindset, we experience any obstacle as equaling total failure of the entire project—or of one’s entire life. Try not to overreact or blow events out of proportion. Focus on what is working in a situation, not on what’s not working at the moment. Don’t let the little things drive you crazy, weigh you down or immobilize you. Lighten up, smile more, frown less.

Remember that each step in life is just one small step—and is not necessarily a vital or crucial step. If you don’t succeed at that step, try another approach in another direction from another angle. Keep the big picture in mind. Breathe.

9.   Find a fresh aspect of your life to laugh about every day.

How do angels fly? They take themselves lightly.

Certainly there are times when life presents major challenges and one needs to act clearly and directly, but behaving responsibly and efficiently does not by any means preclude humor and light-heartedness. In fact, a flexible, fluid, upbeat approach and attitude is crucial to releasing magic and miracles into the healing equation.

Inspiration and breakthrough are often born from the spirit of playfulness and exuberance. A spontaneous wink, a funny smile, a comic gesture can unlock deep fears and stress in a stern person or tense situation. Through conscious silliness the soul can emerge.

Doctors, nurses and attendants now use “clowning” in hospitals to jolt and move the healing process with patients. Scientific studies prove that when people are laughing and having fun, they experience less physical and psychological pain—and recover faster. Laugh more, mend quicker and live longer!

10.   Be silent and still once a day.

Make regular time for yourself in which you can be totally alone. Just sit quietly with no expectations. Do nothing!

This may feel very uncomfortable and strange in the beginning. Do it anyway.

Give yourself time and space for the inner voice to make itself heard. Your inner voice will speak either during that quiet time, or else during the events of the rest of your day. Or a synchronistic event will occur. Or someone will tell you the message you need to hear. Or you will get a sudden flash of insight in the shower or watching a movie.

11.   Tolerate one less undesirable aspect of your life each day.

Take action to change the situations in which you are settling for less than your desired dream. You can only compromise yourself—and your dream—so much before you lose sight of the vision altogether. The things you are putting up with keep you from being yourself and evolving as a human being.

Speak up. Once you know what you need, let others know. Be honest with others about your needs and boundaries. If you remain silent, you’ll disappoint yourself and others more than the truth ever could do.

12.   Take on one fresh risk or challenge every day.

Fear less, dare more. Take at least one action each day that scares you. Face one truth you haven’t been able or willing to acknowledge before. Don’t let fear paralyze you. Set yourself free.

Take your aliveness up a notch. Ask for more and reach for more. Upgrade your dream. Revitalize your life. New experiences make our lives richer.

13.   Tell one new person your dream everyday.

Network. Elicit feedback from a trusted friend, mentor or family member. Listen to a neighbor, co-worker or store clerk. Value your relationships. Call someone who is uplifting, or uplift someone else.

It’s your joy—to use or lose.