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Christy Matta, M.A.Christy Matta, M.A.
A Blog on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness and Stress Reduction

Start Feeling Joy Now!

Christy Matta, M.A. Updated: Mar 27th 2012

When we are feeling down, irritable, angry or down right miserable, we usually have good reason. Life can sometimes cause anguish.

woman jumping outsideYou may experience events, such as unexpected circumstances, loss, relationships turning out badly, finding that circumstances are worse than you expected and being separated from loved ones that leave you in emotional turmoil. At times, it can feel like you barely pick yourself up from one emotional crisis when the next hits.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to fully anticipate, plan for or avoid loss and other circumstances that contribute to emotional pain and misery. As much as we'd like to avoid these painful situations, they are a part of life.

Even so, even in the midst of emotional pain, it is possible to experience joy. When you're in pain, it can feel like happiness is out of our control, but it's not. You have the ability to increase your own happiness and to more frequently experience joy.

You can plan for and increase positive experiences in your life. And with these positive experiences, you can increase the joy you feel today.

Feeling better, even briefly, won't eradicate painful feelings or misery, but it will keep your emotions on a more even keel and help you begin to feel better.

Do three enjoyable things every day. Don't take lightly the impact a pleasant experience can have on your mood and emotions. Today, schedule at least one thing that makes you feel good in the morning, mid-day and in the evening. It could be anything: an extra few minutes to enjoy a warm shower, a phone call with a friend, gazing at a picture of a loved one, re-reading positive emails, exercising, a special cup of coffee, watching a movie, taking a walk, reading a book or magazine, or being alone.

Search for Positive Circumstances. When you are unhappy or stressed, your focus narrows. The result is that you keep noticing only those things around you that contribute to your misery. When you are happy, your focus expands and your thinking becomes more flexible. To get from a narrow mindset to one that is more open and flexible, set aside a portion of the day to hunt for those moments when someone does something nice for you or you share a special experience with someone. Notice when you are offered something you want or need or achieve a goal after hard work. Make a list of what your grateful for or remember what happened today or this week that made you smile, laugh or gave you a sense of calm.

When you have good reason to feel bad, it's hard to make positive changes. However, it's important to plan positive life experiences into your life. Joy doesn't have to be missing, even when you are stressed-out or in emotional pain.


Christy Matta, M.A.

Christy Matta M.A. is a trainer, consultant and writer. She is the author of “The Stress Response: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Free You from Needless Anxiety, Worry, Anger, and Other Symptoms of Stress.” She is intensively trained in DBT and has designed and provided clinical supervision to treatment programs, including a winner of the American Psychiatric Association Gold Award. Matta has a Master of Arts in counseling psychology from Boston College. For more on her consultation and trainings visit her web site For more tips and mindfulness tips and strategies visit her blog

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