Searching For a More Joyful Life

We’ve finally made it, folks – summertime!  OK, I know summer doesn’t officially start until June 20th, but now that my children are out of school, and Memorial Day is behind us, it’s summer in our house.  This holiday weekend was filled with laughter, music, pool time, kids in and out of the house, sleepovers, soccer games, and much enthusiasm as they started to plan two whole months of basically doing whatever they desire.
Their contagious excitement made me wonder where that high level of joy comes from and why most adults don’t experience it as often. Well, here is my theory – I believe that during our formative years, we received so many messages from our parents, teachers, and other influencers about what constitutes correct behavior that we became conditioned to all act the same way and work towards similar goals.  We learned that we needed to grow up and act as “mature” individuals to be taken seriously.  We also learned that at work we needed to always check our personal lives at the door, and that we needed to behave in particular ways that predicted supposed success.  In many cases, that advice did actually work, but the question is, did it come at the expense of joy?  I submit that many of us forgot to keep joy as our north star, always showing us the right direction.
When you live without joy, chances are that you are just going through the motions each day and emptiness is part of your daily experience.  Having joy is important for personal and professional reasons, as author Shawn Achor explains in his book, The Happiness Advantage.  Achor found – after extensive research – that happiness leads to success and not the other way around.   It brings excitement, energy, positivity, motivation and creativity.   At work, joyous employees are more productive and engaged, eager to meet their goals and have their success be measured.  They are better at relating and communicating with others, have fewer absent days and less likely to consider changing jobs.  These are the employees that are more motivated and energetic, who always go the extra mile.

Having trouble letting joy in?  Here are the three key methods for bringing more joy into your life:

  1. Let go of expectations – A major way to welcome in joy is by letting go of rigid expectations and stop trying to control everything.  When you open yourself to all the possibilities life has to offer, you will experience real joy from the universe.
  2. Perform random acts of kindness – When you choose to focus on others rather than yourself, without expecting anything in return, you’ll feel a sense of joy most people lack.  For instance, when you give to charity, your brain’s pleasure center is stimulated, fMRI studies have shown.  This is why you get that ‘warm glow’ when you give.  If you don’t have much disposable income, you can donate your time at a local shelter.
  3. Choose heart-driven goals – Material possessions, achievements and the approval of others are usually the things that drive our goals.  From early childhood, we’re taught that well-being comes from the attainment of wealth.  As we grow older, this is reinforced by the media.  However, those are ego-driven goals and don’t originate from our heart.  That only leads to empty success that will never make you truly happy.  When you get rid of your ego in your goal-setting, you’ll start experiencing true achievement from within, leading to feelings of joy.

Start your summer off right by ushering a wave of joy into your life.  The link is strongest from joy to success, so if you want to be more successful, work on being more joyful.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

To your success!

Toti

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