A practice for cultivating joy in your life

The American Psychological Association defines joy as a feeling of extreme gladness, delight, or exaltation of the spirit arising from a sense of well-being. Joy is an internal belief, something present within you, that brings a sense of satisfaction or appreciation. Joy is not dependent on external factors.

During these challenging times, it is especially important to reach within ourselves and find that joy that exists in all of us. Finding joy during these tough times can be difficult. This is where a Joy Box can be helpful.

A Joy Box is something that can hold your joyfulness. It is something you can reach for when you need a little boost in your life. Making a Joy Box does not have to be expensive. You can cut the top off an empty tissue box, use a Mason jar or other jar you have in your home, use a basket, a bowl, a cup or glass, a vase, or any box. You can decorate your Joy Box in ways that make you smile. Leave the box or other container out where you can see it every day.

Inside the Joy Box put pieces of paper with words or pictures of things that bring you joy. You can make the pieces of paper into shapes such as hearts, circles or triangles if you so choose. Leave a pen and pieces of paper near the box so you can add something each day. You can make a pouch to glue onto your box to hold the papers.

Here are some examples of things you might put in your Joy Box:

Pictures of:

  • Something that makes you laugh such as a baby laughing
  • Something that makes you smile
  • Someone important in your life
  • Your favorite comic strip


  • Something that made you happy as a child
  • Something that makes you happy now
  • Something you enjoy doing such as watching a certain television show, reading, doing puzzles, walking, etc.
  • The name or lyrics of a favorite song
  • The name of your favorite dance
  • A favorite word
  • A goal you accomplished
  • Give yourself a compliment
  • A joke
  • Your favorite Bible verse
  • A favorite movie or television show

One important aspect of the Joy Box is to help direct negative thoughts into joyful or positive thoughts. Trying to remember something positive when you’re in the middle of a difficult time can be hard. So, for example, when you think about having to stay inside during this pandemic, go to your Joy Box and pull out a piece of paper. Let yourself experience joy.

If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, isolation, or loneliness during these difficult times, please reach out to Homage’s Older Adult Access line at (425) 290-1260 or MentalHealth@homage.org. We are here for you.

Nancy Brosemer is a Mental Health Specialist at Homage.