07/30/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How You Can Begin Creating a More Joyful Life

Do you wish you had more joy in your life? Do you even know what it would look like? Can you remember the last time you felt real, honest-to-goodness joy?

If you don't like your answers to these questions, don't bail just yet. It's a tough world out there. We all suffer through crappy jobs, crazy family drama, health challenges and dreams that never quite materialize. As a good friend of mine says, "That's life, Sunshine!"

While we can't always control what life throws at us, we can control how we react -- and that's the key to unlocking joy. And most of us don't understand what real joy is anymore. We're so caught up in trying to create perfection: the perfect career, the perfect marriage, the perfect home, the perfect children, the perfect retirement plan. Then one day we wake up and find that all this perfection is, well, perfectly boring and joyless.

I've been there, done that and bought the proverbial T-shirt! I assumed joy was the by-product of a life lived within the lines. Like using the GPS in my car, I thought that following the directions for living that I had been given would naturally lead me right to a joyful destination. The problem is, I had it all wrong.

Joy is a journey, not a destination. If that sounds too cliché for you, I bet you're still expecting joy to just show up one day all wrapped with a pretty bow. Let me save you the trouble because it isn't going to happen. Joy isn't finding your one true love or getting that dream job; it isn't winning the lottery or buying your dream home. Sure, all those things are wonderful and good -- but then what? Your one true love can still leave; it happens all the time. You could lose that dream job when the economy tanks. A health emergency could suck up your lottery winnings, and don't forget, that dream home will eventually need repairs and updating.

We can have all these things and still feel joyless. So how do we find joy? You're in luck -- you already have it! Don't believe me? Oh, I once felt that way, too. But joy already lives in each of us. It may be a tiny, faint ember, but trust me, it's there. You just need to give it some fuel. No books to buy, workshops to attend or therapists to pay. Right now, you possess all the resources you need for a more joyful life. And that part about "finding" joy? Let's delete that word. This isn't a treasure hunt. Joy is created, not found. Sure, when you realize you're experiencing joy for the first time in a long while, it feels like you've stumbled upon the most amazing find in the world. But it's been inside you all along.

Like you, I want more joy in my life. So let's get started. Watch for more posts from me about how to bring joy into your life, and if you've found a great way to create joy, I'd love to hear about it. If there's one thing about joy I'd like you to know, it's this: Start now. What one small thing would bring you joy right this moment? Whatever it is, whatever it takes, do it, right now. Congratulations -- you're creating joy.