When my daughters were two and four years old, they went through a fairy phase. I don’t mean they liked fairy toys and drew pictures of fairies—I mean my daughters believed they were actual fairies. And who was I to convince them otherwise?
During the fairy phase, the only thing my daughters ever wanted to wear were these poofy dresses with wings sewed on the back—pink for my younger daughter Nava and purple for Kira. They would usually accessorize these with crowns, wands, and any other bling they could their hands on.
My daughters knew all about dressing for joy.
But we don’t usually get to wear fairy dresses as grownups, do we?
We often choose clothes that we believe are age-appropriate, proper for our profession, or in fashion at the moment—whether we actually feel joyful in them or not. And if we aren’t dressing for joy, we’re missing out on a great opportunity.
Let me explain.
I’m rather obsessed with the topic of joy: how to find it, how to keep it, and how to find it again when I lose it. I even wrote a book called The Joy Plan, all about the neurobiology of joy and how to apply it to your life—as told through an entertaining memoir–that’s out this month.
And what I’ve found is that we have to create the conditions for joy every day. After a while, joy becomes a habit—a predisposition in our brains—that remains consistent regardless of the circumstances in our lives. But first we have to practice it.
Since we wear clothes every day, we have a fabulous opportunity to literally adorn ourselves in joy-inspiring attire every single morning. When we feel good in our clothes—either because we are blissfully comfortable or look smoking hot, or both—our brains release a gratifying cocktail of feel-good chemicals including dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin.
When we feel confident in our clothes, we’re more likely to feel confident in ourselves—and since confidence is a positive emotion, it leads to a myriad of health benefits for body, mind, and spirit. Studies have shown that people with higher confidence perform better at school, work, and are more attractive to potential romantic partners. Um, yes please!
So, how do you dress for joy? It’s quite simple, really.
In Marie Kondo’s popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo recommends embracing each item of clothing in your arms—literally hug it close to your body—and notice if it inspires joy or not. According to Kondo, if it doesn’t spark joy, toss it.
Here are a few other things you can ask yourself when choosing clothes:
How does this color make me feel?
How will this texture feel against my skin?
How do I really feel about this style?
If the answer is “Great!”—you’re on the right track.
BIO: KAIA ROMAN
Kaia Roman is the author of the new “memoir with benefits,” The Joy Plan (Sourcebooks, July 2017). She teaches Mindfulness to elementary school students in Santa Cruz, California and is a blogger for minbodygreen and other sites. She writes about how she went from joyless and anxious to grateful and optimistic so she can remember how she did it if she forgets. For everyday joy and mindfulness tips, sign up for Kaia’s newsletter at TheJoyPlan.com.