WHEN did you last feel joy? If it is a question you have to ponder too long and hard, then chances are something is out of kilter. Sit with that for a moment. I have been there too. And here is what you can do to – hopefully – change it.

Yep, I can picture some of you rolling your eyes. If misery loves company is more your vibe, then this won’t be for you. But for anyone whose curiosity is piqued, it might be worth a whirl.

The Washington Post recently published “an illustrated guide to feeling happier, every day”. In it the neuroscientist-turned-science journalist Richard Sima talks about a phrase he has for the little moments of delight we experience throughout the day: he calls them “joy snacks.”

What is a “joy snack”? According to Sima, this might be “your first sip of coffee in the morning, or telling a joke where the punchline hits just right”. He cites other examples such as walking the dog, having lunch with a friend, or calling your mum.

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The idea is that by savouring “small bites of bliss” you can transform otherwise mundane moments into something far more meaningful.

It is a notion that I am rather taken with. Stuck to the wall beside my desk are a series of Post-it notes. Each has a word or short phrase written on it. To what end? Well, it is a list of all the things I need to feel fulfilled in life and work.

Inspiration, balance, variety, adventure, a human connection and purpose are all up there. And at the very top? Joy, of course.

Occasionally when I am asked to do something – a dull job, being cajoled to attend a social event or pestered for a favour – I glance at this cluster of Post-its and if I am not ticking off at least one or more of them, I will politely yet firmly decline.

Don’t get me wrong. We all have to do things that we aren’t keen on. I am equally good at gritting my teeth and getting it done. However, veer too far into the martyrdom of obligation, and you will slowly feel your soul sag like a deflated balloon.

Which brings us back to “joy snacks”. On the days when you have no choice but to knuckle down and tackle a slew of less-fun tasks, then a sprinkling of these mini delights can go a long way to brightening the gloom.

Some of my favourites: randomly hearing an old song; a friend sending funny memes; fresh bed linen; seeing deer in the woods; cuddling my dog; dresses with pockets; garden centre coffee shops; busy bird feeders; watching a sunrise; anything with a fox motif.

I recently began running again after an 11-year hiatus. Initially, I signed up to an online training plan to get me from couch to 5K. It was tough, but aside from the physical challenge of getting fit, I hit a psychological barrier: I hated the workouts.

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Almost every session involved endless drills designed to improve speed, stamina and technique. Which, in theory, is a smart idea. But here’s the kicker: I didn’t want to slog up and down the same stretch of pavement. I wanted to see things.

So, I ditched the plan and went rogue. My new strategy was to run for as long as I could and then walk the bits I couldn’t run. But the real goal was that each time I laced up my trainers and left the house, I would seek out something beautiful in nature.

Whenever anything cool caught my eye – a soaring buzzard, a tree with a gnarled trunk, a tiny stone shaped like a heart – I would instantly feel my spirits lift. It isn’t for everyone, but by peppering my training with “joy snacks” I soon built up the mileage and fell in love with running again.

There is a lot to be said for these magical bite-sized chunks. Before you know it, you are full to the brim with happiness. I can highly recommend it.