This is the next installment of my blog series on Strategic Self-Care. Despite being contained within the standard dialogue about self-care, Joy encompasses more than getting mani-pedis, going shopping and getting enough rest. You can find my previous blogs in this series here: Safety, Security & Self-Care, Significance & Self-Care and  Freedom & Self-Care.

We all have a need for Joy in our lives, and some people have a bigger genetic need for Joy than others. Regardless of how strong your need for Joy is, if it’s been frustrated for a long time, it will feel gargantuan, and you will experience a strong push to satisfy it.

There are three main ways to get your need for Joy met. The first is through active play, the second is through relaxation and the final is through discovery learning. You may favor one way over another, a combination of two, or you may enjoy all three. Whatever your preference, it is important that you feel satisfied with the amount of Joy in your life. The absence of frustration will let you know you are satisfied in this area.

Play: This can be playing in the same way you see children play with reckless abandon. Maybe it’s jogging, tossing a football around, painting, gaming, going out dancing with friends, or attending a live event somewhere. In terms of play, think of expending energy. There is also playing with your mind: speaking with quick wit, cracking jokes and sharing silly sarcasm. If play is important to you, it’s unlikely you’ll agree to do something that you perceive as lacking a fun component. You may suffer through a “typical” job but are most happy in a job where you can have fun.

Remember when you were a child and your parents told you that you couldn’t play until your work was done? That wasn’t too hard because you didn’t have much work as a child. But growing through preschool, elementary, middle and high school, your workload increased so much that it seemed there was never time to play. If you still followed your parents’ rule as an adult, when did you find time to play? That’s right, never! This is unacceptable.

Relaxation: This is where the mani-pedi fits in. Receiving joy from relaxation could also look like a quiet walk in the woods, fly fishing, cooking, reading a good book, or seeing a movie. Anything that rebuilds energy would fit in this category. This is your mode if you prefer quiet, rejuvenating kinds of activities.

Discovery Learning: Learning isn’t always full of joy; I learned calculus, but that was void of any joy. Learning is joy when you discover information you value, are interested in and find relevant. I was joyful when I learned how to downhill ski, parent and counsel using Choice Theory psychology.

Vacations might fit into any of these categories. If you are planning to travel with others, it is important to understand what their picture of Joy is so you can all get what you need from your trip. If you are planning a relaxing vacation with people who want to party the whole time, there may be conflicts. If you want to engage in some discovery learning through guided tours, museums and theatre with someone looking for relaxation, that may not be ideal either. Any vacation can work if you are willing to talk ahead of time about what you hope to do while away. Be sure everyone’s needs are accommodated; even if you don’t always do things together, be sure you all will find an abundance of Joy.

Your other need-strengths will influence how you experience Joy. The strength of your need for Safety & Security will dictate whether you rather risky or safe activities. Your Freedom need will determine whether you prefer planned activities or spontaneous ones. Your need for Connection will determine whether you prefer experiencing Joy alone or with others.

Your need for Significance will determine whether you would rather experience Joy privately or pursue the type of Joy that also brings recognition from your accomplishments. A high drive for Significance can mean you most enjoying the discovery learning method to Joy. Sometimes when you have a high need for Significance, the opposite happens. You may be performing all day, every day, and just want some Joy getting away from it all where no one knows you to relax and unwind.

The main point is to make sure you have Joy in your life relating to Self-Care. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time; in fact, when you are mindful, it becomes easy to find Joy in every moment. It also doesn’t have to be expensive. Some of my most joyous moments have been outside in nature, watching the sun set. Discover the things that create Joy for you and be sure to experience Joy daily for Strategic Self-Care. You’ll be glad that you do.

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