Fueled with Joy.

A drive towards joy is the drive towards a more meaningful life!

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Photo Credit: Sara K. Byrne
Photo Credit: Sara K. Byrne

Our lives require both force and direction; but joy may actually be one of the most powerful routes to happiness!

Our culture is obsessed with the pursuit of happiness, but in the process, joy is often overlooked. And ironically joy is a lot more immediate and accessible than happiness. So rather than chasing after happiness, maybe what we should be doing is seeking meaning and focusing on joy instead…

What is the difference between happiness and joy?

To define each; happiness is a state of being influenced by a wide range of factors, and is something that measures how good we feel over the course of time. While joy is an emotion of feeling good that lives within moments. It’s a lot simpler and easier to find than happiness; and when joy is found it provides us with a pathway of small confirmations that we are aligned with our purpose.

Being ‘filled with joy’ is a unique capacity we already have, and that we can continually develop. The discovery of joy can be cultivated through the practice of mindfulness, and simply through how we lead our lives.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

– Rumi.

If we learn to shift out of auto-pilot and reactivity, these moments to feel, sense, and perceive will be available to us more often. And in-turn will bring more joy, and the virtuous circle ensues.

As we allow our spirit to live in the midst of the each of our experiences; we will further develop appreciation, and the ability to be more attentive to positive stimuli in our surroundings.

What research has found is that these small bursts of joy often have a halo effect or an upward spiral that will spark a much larger sequence of events and reactions that forms a pathway to lead us to a greater wellbeing!

It only takes an intentional small step of wholeheartedness to experience joy. The world will seem a little bit friendlier, more abundant, and less full of obstacles. We will literally start to see more joy in the world around us!

“If you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that…” 

– Alan Watts.

Think of joy as confetti; not just one color, but a multi-color of abundance; and over time their cumulative effects can lead us to greater happiness! 

On the other hand; happiness can be a bit complicated; and is much more than just getting what we want. And often we don’t even always recognize it even when we have it. Remember that what fulfillment means to you may be completely different from what it means to someone else. Let’s refrain from defining our happiness based upon someone else’s checklist.

When life is going really good or really bad, having meaning gives us something to hold onto during our peaks and valleys. The flow of joy will bring about more reliance and longevity – so let’s keep in stride and continually cultivate a meaningful life!

How can we each live more meaningfully?

Emily Esfahani Smith offers four pillars of a meaningful life:

  • The 1st is belonging > This springs from love and lives in moments among us.
  • The 2nd is purpose > This is less about what you want and more about using your strengths to give and serve others.
  • The 3rd is transcendence > These are the rare moments where we are in a zone and may lose all sense of time and space. This feeling is rooted very differently for each of us.
  • The 4th is storytelling > This is the narrative that you tell yourself; creating a story about your unique life events will bring about a sense of clarity and understanding about how we are each perfectly made.

There is power in meaning.

This comes from belonging to and serving something far beyond ourselves. It’s with each passing day that we are constantly building and adding new chapters to our story. At any point of time we can pivot, edit, and change the way we are telling our stories and rediscover new purpose along the way. The psychologist Dan McAdams calls this a redemptive story.

Let’s define our stories by kindness, gratitude, redemption, growth, peace, love, happiness…and JOY!

Take this ‘life inventory’ with me today – embrace joy and intentionally find unique and creative ways to put yourself in its path more often. And let’s collaborate to build these pillars of meaning within our own lives and orbits, this will in-turn create a culture around us that spurs others to do the same!

Joy brings us into the present moment, let’s not miss it…

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