It will be difficult for everyone to feel joy when first learning how to do kind actions intentionally. There is a personal cost of mental energy when learning how to foresee other people’s needs and especially while actions are occurring. It takes some practice, to be alert and to respond with helpful actions and feel joy as a habit.
An easy way to learn this ability is to practice doing very small acts of kindness. The acts can be so small that most people won’t even see them, even when they are watching. It is the mental process of learning how to create the right habits that requires intentional forethought and forepractice.
The physical experience is what is desired to be practiced and that requires personal attention in the living moment. To create that kind of attention requires practice, but how can you have that habit without having exposure to the environmental prompts? The smaller actions are more frequent and easier to practice. That is why they are preferred for learning this habit. The answer is to do it mentally. This involves doing the right kind of mental meditation where you practice a new kind of habit formation designed to be prompted in small real-world situations. Later, shifting to bigger ones will be almost automatic.
A simple example for developing the new habits is one that was posted as Controlling and creating habits at the supermarket while in the checkout line. That habit dealt with how to resist the magazines and candies that are routinely proffered to fill up your shopping basket to get the discounts based on spending over a specified dollar amount. This technique was a mental preparation, a meditation, that is used to foresee and resist a specific temptation. That checkout line example was to be practiced at the very moment you are reading the blog post. Take a minute to do it now. Basically, it is mentally to imagine being in the checkout line and holding your elbow up to the temptation and thinking, I will not pick up those things. Keep that thought and posture in your mind until you are past the temptations, and then glance back and smile for two seconds while saying to yourself, “I didn’t need those things!” If you practice doing this right now and seven more times, spread a minute apart for the first one, and then two minutes, and then four, et cetera, until it is an hour for the last mental practice, you will succeed in creating the new habit. The pauses in between the practices reach different parts of the memory processing and by the last one, the habit will trigger automatically when you encounter the prompt. There’s an app for triggering timed responses.
That technique of triggering the habit of kind actions can be built using this same technique.
It is possible to create the emotion of joy while shoveling snow, chopping wood, and other tasks usually thought of as unpleasant.