The question sounds absurd, doesn’t it?
You’d be surprised at how many people answer “Why yes, of course we deserve to feel joy all the time!”, but do not walk their talk. We live in a culture that is infatuated with planning for the future, with crafting a better life for ourselves, always demanding exponential growth and progress– so it makes sense that as we strive for excellence sometimes beyond our means, we fail to do two vital things:
- Look up from the grindstone and see that what we have is deserving of joy and gratitude
- Forgive ourselves for not being exactly where we want to be in our lives, but recognize that it’s okay to be joyful in the meantime
- Forgive ourselves for being joyful in the face of others who are in pain
Joyfulness is not a destination—there will always be another peak to climb on the horizon—so it truly is the journey that you will look back on.
When you ask a runner what they most remember about a race, the first thing they’ll tell you will not be when they crossed the finish line. They will tell you about their competitors, the trail conditions, the bursts of energy and the pain they endured. But most interesting will be that they look back on those struggles fondly, with a sense of reverence and nostalgia.
Remember there is joy to be found in our struggles, and although celebrating success is a wonderful thing, 99% of our time is not spent toasting each other, but working hard and testing the limits of what we’re capable of.
Before you go to bed every night, try this exercise: ask yourself if you did everything in your power to be amazing today. If you did, smile and be glad! You are living your dream. If you feel like you’ve fallen short, ask yourself why and adjust course. And don’t forget to forgive yourself without letting yourself off the hook.
Smile, smile, smile! Joy is not always found fireworks, trumpets, and fanfare. Joy is a hug from a child, a bite of a succulent apple, a kiss on the lips. Joy is literally the air we breathe, for it is a gift that we inhale so our eyes can see, our fingers can touch, our mouths to taste. And for those who have challenges in their lives, living by example and sharing your joy is the best way to pay it forward.
Remember… Shift happens!