“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose it. And then continue to choose it each day.” – Henri Nouwen [Tweet this.]
“If you give me your phone, I’ll be happy!”
My 5-year-old Henry shared these words with me. In a ploy to bribe me, he assumed happiness is what I want for him.
He was wrong.
I’m actually not that into being happy. Happy is fine. But happiness is dependent upon things going “my way.”
Playing with dad’s phone, getting more ice cream, staying up late – these are great ways to feel happy.
They’re also extremely fleeting.
The phone runs out of batteries, the ice cream melts, the body needs rest.
It’s not happiness we should strive for then. What we actually desire is joy. Joy is not at all dependent on things going our way. It’s not reliant on getting what we want. Joy is the ability to be lit up each day regardless of challenges, setbacks or struggles. Joy is a choice.
How do we make this choice? I observed the most joy-filled people I know. They have four things in common:
1. Living Gratefully :: We spend much of our time seeking things we don’t have. The perfect dress, nicer car, firmer tummy. But, those I know who are on fire with joy intentionally celebrate the things they do have.
2. Act Selflessly :: Personalized laptop wrapping, monogrammed shirts, life documented and shared in pictures through social media. These things aren’t bad; but the hyper focus on self can be destructive. Instead, joy-based people ask themselves what they can do for others – and then have the audacity to go out and do it.
3. Lit-Up Spiritually :: On our Rising Above client pre-event survey we ask “Are there topics John should not speak about?” Most respond with “politics and religion.” My friend, to ignore spirituality is a disservice to our businesses, schools, families and lives. Joyful folks live by guiding principles rooted in faith, they have a gritty drive, and they’re certain their work, efforts, and lives matter.
4. Compare Differently :: Who has the better job? Smarter kid? More friends on Facebook? Some days, we are all guilty of making ridiculous comparisons. Those on fire with joy compare themselves, too. The difference is this: rather than looking toward others, they compare themselves with who they were yesterday and who they might become tomorrow.
No, Henry, the phone won’t make you happy.
The key to real happiness, a continual state of joy, has nothing to do with “getting.” [Tweet this.]
Joy is the moment-by-moment choice to be grateful for what we have, selfless in what we do, connected with why we’re here, and focused on becoming the best version of ourselves. Joy happens when we see life for how good it actually is.
Joy will not simply happen to us. We must continue to choose it each day.
Who is the most joy-filled person you know? Share in the comments who it is and a little about them. We’ll send one lucky winner a book and DVD with a personalized note from John.