How to really build a joy filled life.


I was reviewing my Leonie Dawson “2018 My Shining Year Workbook” this week (check her stuff out if you haven’t before! It is inspiring!) I haven’t reviewed my plan as regularly as I had hoped this past year, but for various reasons I opened it up this weekend. It was both interesting and affirming.

In the Life version of her book, she goes through what a shining life might include. She has different exercises that guide you to discover what a shining life looks like for you (or me, in this case).

I happened to open to the book to the page “Word for the Year” page.


My sacred words: Gratitude and Joy!


One year ago, I indicated that my sacred word for 2018 was GRATITUDE. I will admit that I have not been purposeful in my focus of the concept this year; at least not in the most recent months.  That said, as I look back over the last year, I recall that gratitude, in one way or another, has emerged over and over in different situations. There does seem to be some power in writing things down.

In addition to gratitude, the concept of JOY has become a topic of importance for me this year. I’ve discussed the linkages between joy and happiness – differences and connections. I’ve written blogs about joy – what it is and what it isn’t.

Meanwhile I’ve been reading more Brené Brown. Among the many things her research has shown, she has found there is a significant connection between Gratitude and Joy. People who experience the most joy in their lives practice gratitude on a regular basis.

Practicing gratitude seems to be the difference. A connection with spirituality appears important. Simply considering gratitude as a concept or, as Brené says in her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” on page 78, having an ‘attitude of gratitude’, doesn’t always translate to a behaviour of gratitude, which means the impact on joy is compromised.

For myself, I was interested to note that a year ago I seemed to know that having a practice of gratitude was important. In fact, I wrote as one of my plans “regular gratitude practice”. Unfortunately, that was not a particularly “SMART” plan. Nothing specific or measurable about it. It might or might not be achievable and realistic, and it had no link to how long I would actually do it before determining if it made any difference.

Ultimately, Gratitude for me this year has been more accidental than purposeful. I have had moments of Joy, but these have been more fleeting than constant. I want to change this for 2019. To instead have a year steeped in Gratitude and Joy, what must I do? What must we all do when this is what we seek?

What is it, other than a non-specific goal, that has kept me from easily experiencing Gratitude and Joy?


What Gets In The Way?


Brené indicates that two main things that get in the way of gratitude and joy are…


Fear and Scarcity.

{Related post: How to defuse yourself in the face of unmet expectations}


Fear often shows up when we’re on the edge of joy; when our own minds throw us into the clutches of fear. Joy can’t thrive there.

And where does fear lurk?

On our social media feed. On the 24-hour news feed. At family dinners. In the office. In our minds.

My experience is that fear has become a default way of looking at the world. It sometimes feels just so much safer to live in the fear space, because then we won’t be thrown there unexpectedly.

But just because it is the default, that doesn’t mean I have to choose to succumb. I can make the Grateful choice. I can remind myself that fear of something doesn’t mean that it is real.

What about scarcity?

Scarcity means there is not enough of anything (sleep, time, money, work, power…), and ultimately means we’re not enough.


  • I know way too often a scarcity mindset is my daily default:
  • I didn’t get enough sleep.
  • I don’t have enough time to do all the things I need to do.
  • I don’t have enough time off.
  • I don’t have enough money.


Scarcity is the fuel for our inner critic or gremlins. You’ve heard the inner critic voice:


  • “I’m not smart enough”
  • “I’m not fit enough”
  • “I’m not thin enough”
  • “I’m not rich enough”


But there is a way out.


Instead of scarcity, we can seek sufficiency.

With a sufficiency mindset, we have a knowing that there is enough. We don’t have to be extraordinary to be amazing. We are beautiful and strong and smart. We are enough.

So, what can I, and all of us do about this now? Here’s what I’m going to try:

I’m going to re-write my Gratitude Practice goal to make it SMART.

  • 5 minutes of gratitude as I sit with my hands on my heart, each day for 2 weeks.

When I hear scarcity show up, I will respond with a sufficiency mindset response:

  • “I was able to get 2 major things and 5 small things taken off my list.” vs “There is no way I can get all the things I need to do done today.

I will seek to honor the smallest moments.

  • The joyful twinkle of a star.
  • A beautiful voice.
  • The smile of a loved one.
  • The excitement of a puppy who hasn’t seen you all day.
  • My daughter’s first job interview.
  • A pain free day.

What about you? How will you build in gratitude and joy?  How have you already?

Share in the comments below!





Enter your details to join my newsletter...

and get my FREE "Live More Simply" workbook as a bonus!

Success! Check your inbox!

Get on the waitlist for the next round

of the Refreshed Life Program!

Enter your email address and be the first to know.

Success! Check your inbox!

Get on the waitlist for the next round

of the Mindful Living: Happy Life Program!

Enter your email address and be the first to know.

Success! Check your inbox!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Like this post? Please share it!