Saturday, December 29, 2018

What brings you joy?

As the new year approaches, the question, What brings you joy? is on my mind. All of us have limitations that may relate to time, energy, geography, dollars, connections, and more, and those limitations force us to think carefully about how we will maximize what we have to help us lead joyful lives. To take time to think about what truly brings you joy means that you'll likely spend the time, energy, and dollars on what enriches life rather than wasting it on events and efforts less valuable or joyful.

What brings you joy?

For each of us that answer will vary greatly. For some the answer may include a mix of one or more of these activities: wonderful outdoor adventures, relaxing vacations, music, shared meals, lovely homes, solitude, togetherness, and creative endeavor.

How do you determine what brings you joy, and then how do you plan for that joy?

There's many ways to play with the question, What brings you joy? One way is to journal about one or more of the following questions:
  • If you were left with only $100. what would you do with it?
  • If you could do anything you wanted with one whole day, what would you do?
  • If you had endless resources, what would your life look like?
  • What is an ideal week? What is an ideal vacation? What is an ideal job?
  • Who do you most like to be with and why?
Identifying what means the most to you is an essential ingredient of finding your joy. It's also important to identify what your dream-life looks like. Exercises such as writing about the dream you, your ideal life, or even your obituary can help you to notice what matters most to you.

Once you understand what you love and what you desire, you can start to plan for a joyful life. A good way to achieve that joyful life is to create a weekly pattern that helps you to get there--a pattern that includes contribution, sacrifice, and good times for self and others.

Rarely do you hear of an individual whose joy comes only from and for self. Though that may occur with those that cloister themselves and devote themselves to a life of prayer or solitary creativity, most people find joy in working and living with others. And to successfully and joyfully live and work for and with others requires contribution to those we love and live for. There is great joy in contributing to others' positive living and our collective efforts to live good lives.

There are few to none amongst us that can reap joy without sacrifice. Sacrifice means that we put some of our own needs and wants aside in order to save up or make way for greater joy for ourselves and others down the road. Just yesterday in the news was the story of a good man who devoted his life to his work and a needy family member--that man saved lots of money and at his death left that money to many organizations that serve others. He could have spent the money and time on himself, but he sacrificed to give to others and create greater joy. There are all kinds of ways that people sacrifice time, energy, and money to create joy, and this is part of the joyful equation of living. 

Good Times
Good times will be defined by all of us differently and it's essential that we map out our lives somewhat to make space, time, energy, and dollars for those good times. Traditional good times like holidays, personal/family celebrations, and accomplishments provide a natural path to good times and joy. If we take time to think about what brings us great joy, we will also find ourselves creating new traditions and events that bring us good times and joy. These personally created events might be as simple as a healthy lunch once a month with a good friend or as complex as a yearly reunion of loved ones in the mountains or by the ocean. Whatever your good times are, it's important to forge a path in that direction--these good times and traditions pave the way for joy, and joy is essential to good living.

As I think of the words in this post, I look forward to creating a a year's joy map--a map that will include the kinds of events that bring me joy as well as the sacrifice and contribution that will make that joy possible. As I say often, there are limitless ways to create a positive, joyful life, and the first step is taking the time to think about what that means to you, then creating a loose-tight map towards that end. I use the words, loose-tight, as part of a joyful life is also to leave room for the serendipitous events that come our way, events we don't plan or, but events that make us have to rethink what joy means to us and how we will reap that joy in our everyday lives.

What brings you joy?

How will you map out a joyful year?

What contributions and sacrifices will enable you to live joyfully?

Who will be your most cherished companions on this journey?