How to Practice Joy, Because Being Depressed Sucks

I have literally made it my business to help people access their joy.

Fifteen years ago I suffered from such intense depression that I could barely get out of bed. The moment I recognized that I was awake, I’d actually start crying and would pull the covers over my head to avoid the sunlight. I had gotten to a point where my daily routine felt boring and meaningless, and the state of affairs in the world made me feel helpless and scared.

Being in college at the time, I sought help from the mental health department, where a psychologist concluded that I was suffering from Post Traumatic Syndrome triggered by the events of 9/11. With the help of therapy, I was able to work through unresolved issues from my childhood which were negatively affecting me as a young adult.

I came to recognize that this world could feel big and scary at times, but the only things I had control over were my actions.

So I made a conscious decision to practice joy because frankly, being depressed sucks. I began to make some changes and developed a breadth of tools and techniques to help myself feel better. I quit smoking cigarettes, spent less time with toxic friends, started practicing yoga, adopted a dog, began painting and got a job at a coffee shop where I could make new friends.

In just a few months, all of these changes helped me make a 180 degree turn in my life. I felt like I had climbed out of a well of depression that had gotten so deep that I couldn’t even see the light. Eventually, I was enjoying life so much that the light was shining from within.

It didn’t necessarily mean that the world around me had changed, but rather, I had changed the way I looked at the world. The more I practiced the attitude of gratitude, the easier it was for me to rebound from negative experiences and feelings.

Instead of thinking about all the things that made me feel sad, I started to think of all the things that brought me joy. Then I tried to practice them daily. Now, after years of studying Psychology and getting a Masters in Communication, for years my business facilitated others finding joy through creative self-expression including, but not limited to, yoga, drum, dance and song.

What are things that bring you joy? They can be big or small, silly or serious, complicated or simple. As long as it helps you smile, add it to your list. Then if you’re ever feeling low, you can choose something to cheer yourself up. If your heart is shining, the path out of the darkness becomes clear.

In the comments below, share the ways you practice joy. I’m excited to see your smile starters.

Here are a few ways I practice joy:

  1. Feeling sunshine on my face
  2. Picking flowers
  3. Eating blueberries
  4. Riding my bike
  5. Walking barefoot in the sand
  6. Smelling the ocean
  7. Playing with a dog
  8. Laughing with a baby
  9. Dancing to loud music
  10. Gathering with women

As my teacher, Kia Miller, says at the end of her yoga classes:

“May your inner light shine so brightly that you can see your path ahead clearly. May all obstacles be removed so you can uplift and elevate everyone you come into contact with.”         

Namaste ~ the light within me bows to the light within you

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Note: Another version of this post was originally shared on the

1 reply
  1. Sara
    Sara says:

    Hi, Gigi.
    Thank you for the reminder at a poignant time. Here is my short list:
    1. Hiking in the warm sunshine.
    2. Indulging in a bestselling novel.
    3. Traveling to a new place and exploring.
    4. Cooking yummy food and sharing with others.
    5. Laughing. Really laughing. From the belly, until you cry, so-good-it-hurts laughing. ♡☆

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