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Cultivating Joy: How to bring more joy into your daily life

Click to play video: '“Cultivating Joy” through dance, music and self-love'
“Cultivating Joy” through dance, music and self-love
WATCH: “Cultivating Joy” through dance, music and self-love – Mar 29, 2023

Life — especially over the past three years — has proved to be stressful, isolating, trying and demanding for most Canadians.

According to neuroscientist and science writer for the Washington Post, Richard Sima, “the antidote to an ever-stressful, busy and uncertain world” is very possibly “finding and savouring little bites of joy in your day.”

He calls them “joy snacks.”

“Joy snacks are like finding these small moments in everyday life where you can really engage with something that brings you this feeling of connection and happiness,” said Sima.

After his November 17, 2022, article was published the term “joy snacks” went viral.

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People reacted and shared their joy snacks on social media – things, in many cases, people already incorporated into a daily routine but perhaps didn’t pay as much attention to. They include enjoying a well-made cup of coffee, noticing nature on a walk around the block or catching up with a good friend.

Click to play video: 'Cultivating Joy: How to bring more joy into your daily life'
Cultivating Joy: How to bring more joy into your daily life

It’s easy to associate joy with monumental life experiences like getting married or a bucket-list trip half way around the world but as it turns out, for many people, everyday experiences, like appreciating a particularly beautiful sunset or gathering close family and friends for dinner, are also a source of happiness and meaning.

CAMH psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Mak agrees.

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“Social contact, things that make us happy, they increase the neurotransmitters that regulate mood.  Things like serotonin and dopamine, so if you’ve had the experience of winning a big pot in poker you feel that jolt in dopamine and it makes us happy and we get that same feeling when we spend time with our family and friends,” said Mak.

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So, how can you enjoy more joy snacks?

Global News set out to find average people who have figured out how to live a more joyful life.

Phil Vriend, retired teacher and wildlife photographer

“There’s a lot of research showing that exposure to nature…going outside, bird sounds, seeing trees, this for many people is a source of joy,” said Sima.  Retired teacher and wildlife photographer, Phil Vriend knows this to be true. Vriend spends several hours outside, several days a week.

“It makes me happy. There’s no place where I feel as peaceful, meditative.  I just feel good. I feel good when I’m outdoors and I feel great when I see birds,” said Vriend.

Capturing the beauty in even the most common creatures helps to fuel Vriend, but over the last few months, travelling to different parts of Ontario, the photographer has spotted more elusive birds like the Great Grey Owl.

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“A moment of, I don’t know, religious awe.  Sacred,” said Vriend.

Click to play video: '‘Cultivating Joy’ through getting outside in nature'
‘Cultivating Joy’ through getting outside in nature

Montina Hussey, visual artist

Making and creating is another way to snack on joy.

“Creativity is fascinating…it is a source of joy.  It gives you a sense of power.  You are making something that wasn’t there in the world…and there’s good research showing it doesn’t matter how good it is, it’s just the act of creating and being immersed in that experience that can bring joy”, said Sima.

Toronto-based visual artist, Montina Hussey finds joy every day in her chosen career and love of bright, vintage clothing.  Hussey’s paintings are vibrant, colourful and psychedelic slices of her unapologetic self-expression.

“Life’s too short for beige,” said Hussey.

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Click to play video: '‘Cultivating Joy’ through the act of creating and painting'
‘Cultivating Joy’ through the act of creating and painting

Natalie Borch, founder of The Pink Studio

A quick way to a ‘joy snack’ can be realized by turning up the music and dancing at home or in the car. But to make the experience a joy trifecta, Natalie Borch, founder of “The Pink Studio”, a dance studio welcoming beginners in Toronto’s east end, incorporates self-love and body confidence.

“It opens every pleasure receptor,” said Borch

“When you come into a class and you see a wide range of sizes…and everyone is expressing themselves and dancing, it really is the epitome of joy,” added Borch.

Click to play video: 'Cultivating joy through giving and connecting'
Cultivating joy through giving and connecting

Zachery Dereniowski, TikTok influencer

Windsor, Ont., native, Zachery Dereniowski has gained a TikTok audience of nearly 15 million followers through showcasing chance encounters with strangers.  His path to joy is tied to a purposeful life focused on random acts of kindness, empathy and connection.

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“… l feel alive again and I found something that I love doing that hopefully has a ripple effect from people watching the videos,” said Dereniowski.

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