08/14/2013 11:59 am ET Updated Oct 14, 2013

The Alphabet of Happiness: 'J'

Do you believe that more happiness is possible? The simple choice of what you focus on can shape your neural pathways and your experience. This also opens new ways to express the many facets of happiness, ranging from inner peace to uncontrolled laughter. Here, we'll explore three of these facets through the letter J: joy is the antidote to stress, jammin' with friends feeds the soul, and the journey is so much more important than any destination.

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. ~ Hellen Keller

Joy is an elixir that sparks a sense of aliveness and connection. Feeling joy is all about being mindful to the moment and experiencing it deeply. It can show up as the emotion of awe, like when you are watching a sunset. It can feel like connection, as you are holding someone you delight in. Joy can also be the feeling in your heart after you have done something kind for someone else, whether they realize it or not. The joy of giving fills you up with a warmth and fullness that nothing can take away. Joy lingers past the fleeting pleasure of a new gadget, and adds a sense of meaning that lasts far beyond the moment.

Every time you have a joyous experience it's like adding currency to your memory banks. The great thing is that these deposits are cumulative. Like compound interest, each joyous encounter builds upon the last. Reflecting on the joyous moments will make you rich in what is most important at the end of the day.

Joy is also an antidote for stress. You can draw upon your reservoir of inner joy, whenever you are facing something difficult. Bring yourself back to a special moment when you felt immersed in joy, whether that was expressed through love, kindness, or connection. Re-experiencing the feeling of that moment will bolster you for any challenge you face. Let joy in, give joy out, and feel the unshakeable sense of your true nature.

How do you experience deep joy?

We're jammin', jammin', And I hope you like jammin', too. Ain't no rules, ain't no vow, we can do it anyhow... Jammin' till the jam is through. We're jammin' ~ Bob Marley

Have you ever had the experience of kicking back with friends and laughing, singing, telling jokes and sharing stories? In some cultures the highest value is placed on connecting with one's community of family, old friends and new. As social animals, we need that sense of connection, more than we may realize. Yet, in today's hectic rat-race, community can take a back seat to the grasping for accomplishments. People are constantly chasing something "better."

What if jammin' together was an accomplishment in itself? What if we prioritized time to just be with friends, kick back, and savor these special connections? Make the time to really relax and enjoy the closeness of community, inspiration, and true friendship. It will fuel your spirit, remind you that you belong and that you are loved. What accomplishment could be "better" than that?

The only journey is the one within.~ Rainer Maria Rilke

The journey of a lifetime is not to some exotic place (although that is fun too). The journey of a lifetime is to know yourself, and explore all that you have inside of you. We are here for a reason, though it often takes a while to discover what that is. Would you have an answer if someone were to ask you, "What is your purpose?"

The Hero's journey is one of the classic ways to discover the answer...and everyone is a hero in the making. The thing is, much as we might prefer smooth sailing no hero's journey is without its obstacles. At one time or another, we all have to face the "dragons," in whatever form they present themselves. The good news is that we have everything within us to get to the other side.

From a baby's very first steps, s/he learns to fall and get up again, giggling with delight with each new stride. Even when learning to ride a bike, the scrapes on our knees mean less than the new skills we develop, as well as the new sense of freedom that opens up before us. Just like a baby, we have the capacity within ourselves to keep on going, learning, and laughing along the way.

The destination is less important than taking the steps. Our final destination is irrefutable; it's also the great equalizer. So the question becomes, how can we make the most of the journey, and enjoy the process? What can we learn about our purpose, the relationships in our lives, and how we can come together to make things better for all? Perhaps the purpose of a lifetime is to love and be loved. That may be the most important journey of all.

What other J's have added to your happiness? What journeys have added to your joy?

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