Cultivating and Experiencing Joy

Susan Brumbaugh
4 min readDec 18, 2020

Feeling joyful when you aren’t necessarily being joyful

Photo by Lisa Wall on Unsplash

Life has its ups and downs, and we tend to pay more attention to the downs than the ups. Through mindfulness meditation, we can explore how facial expressions of joy can actually cultivate thoughts and feelings of joy. We can bring joyful aspects of our lives to mind and notice the physical sensations that result.

I’m a licensed mental health counselor, and I know it can be challenging to think about joy and meditate on joy if we’re experiencing difficulty. But in this meditation, I give you several strategies for bringing joy to you and then noticing what happens when you are experiencing joy.

Below is a transcript of a meditation I led on this topic, and at the end of the article, you’ll find a link to the meditation video. Let’s get started.

Meditation Transcript

I’ll begin by inviting you to become present to the extent that you can. A lot of times when we sit down to meditate we are coming from activity and going back to activity and our brains like to keep us in those spots. But for now, let’s be together virtually.

If you are comfortable closing your eyes I’ll invite you to do that. Take some breaths.

Since the topic of today’s meditation is joy, let’s spend a little time with facial expressions. As you meditate, let’s see if we can bring just a gentle smile to the lips.

Even with the eyes closed imagining a smile does something to the eyes as well. It doesn’t have to be a huge smile it’s just a gentle facial posture to kind of help us be in the mood of focusing on joy.

It may be difficult for you to cultivate joy in this very moment. Some of us are experiencing great difficulty, and it may be challenging to even come up with something to be joyful about. So if that is difficult you could start with gratitude.

It’s not like we’re denying the difficulties of our lives — the circumstances that we’re in — we’re just allowing those to shift to the background while we focus on one specific aspect of emotion.

I’ll invite you to bring to mind something that you can be joyful about. It might be an accomplishment. It might be the season of life that…

Susan Brumbaugh

Susan Brumbaugh is a criminal justice researcher who telecommutes, a licensed counselor, a mindfulness meditation practitioner, and a perpetual learner.