post

Why Wait for Vacation? How to Enjoy Every Moment

I was on a Google Hangout with some friends recently, discussing how we organize our lives.  The topic of vacations–and how we plan them–came up.

The host of the Hangout, Lori, made the distinction of planning for the vacation versus being on the vacation and used this distinction as a metaphor for life.

The Obstacle to Enjoying Life

In the Hangout most of us admitted that we work and live rather haphazardly when it comes to the daily hour-by-hour management of our lives.  Some have over-arching goals and priorities–like children, education, business, etc–but many of us face what is in front of us and move through life going one thing to the next.

A few years ago–like most of the world–I watched the progression and passing of the life of Steve Jobs, and it made me think.

I want to live my life in such a way that when I come to the end of it, I am satisfied.

You would probably say the same of your life, wouldn’t you?  Nobody sets out to live a failed life.  If satisfaction is the goal, what is the method?  How can we create a satisfied life?

Here are 3 assertions I made:

1. My life may end at any time.

2. I don’t (yet) know when my life will end.

3. I want to be prepared.

There’s nothing ground-breaking about these assertions, but they made me face the truth that many of us try to avoid–I am mortal.

So, you may see the inherent paradox here between numbers 1 & 2 and number 3.  How does one prepare for something that is imminent but may (or hopefully may not) be immediate?

How to Enjoy Life

For me it came down to a matter of training myself to find joy in every moment–even the ones that frustrate, anger and bewilder me.

How can you find joy in every moment?

  • Be clear about what brings you joy
  • Do what brings you joy

When I first started down this path, I didn’t know what brought me joy.  Do you? Really?  Think about it for a minute.

Set aside the cars, boats, planes, houses, etc.  What brings you down-in-your-soul, curl-your-toes joy?

Image of the authorFor me it is flexibility, spontaneity, stillness and the ability to express myself creatively.  (Is it any wonder that I fall deeper in love with my photography hobby every day?)

So you say, “Yeah, but Steve, you can’t just run around taking pictures every day without making any money to support yourself!”

You’re right. I can’t. My skill isn’t developed enough to live from my hobby…yet. And honestly, I don’t know if I even really want to make a living from photography. Probably not.

Here is the key: Look for ways to enrich every moment of your life with what brings you joy. (Tweet This)

It would be weird–no, actually it would be creepy–for me to take my camera to work and snap pictures of everyone and everything.

Here’s what I mean.  Uncover the keystones of what bring you joy–in my case, independence, stillness and creativity–and look for ways to bring that to your life in every moment!

You can create ways to feel joy even in the most mundane and dull moments of your life. You may not love your job, but start finding ways to bring your joy with you to work, and you’ll find your perspective toward that dead-end job shifts dramatically.

You cannot travel within and stand still without.
– James Allen
Tweet This

Your circumstances will shift when you do.  That’s the bottom line. You always control your thoughts.

So even if you find a circumstance to which you can bring no joy at all (like losing a loved one), you can still find joy within the stillness of your soul and in the quietness of your thoughts.  The presence of joy does not mean the absence of sorrow. Joy exists, as a matter of will, in spite of the sorrow.

A Final Warning on Enjoying Life

Many people mistakenly believe that a dramatic shift in circumstances will bring greater joy to their lives. In every case where my circumstances shifted for the better, the level of my joy remained fairly consistent.

Some of us want to dive off into our hobbies–either as a career or as a distraction–before we have the stability or ability to do so.  Don’t make this mistake.

I would have been foolish to grab my camera, march into my workplace and drop my resignation letter on my boss’s desk, and say, “I found my passion. I’m outta here!”

Your hobby may become your career at some point, but it may not. Search beyond your passion, and uncover your true purpose. What makes you come alive? What is it that brings you joy.  Then, set to work creating a life from that, and you’ll find that the circumstances will realign themselves in an almost magical way.

Castle quote by Thoreau

 

(click the quote/image to tweet it)

What Do You Do to Bring Joy to Your Moments?

Please share this article.

In the comments section below, fill me in on what you do to bring joy to the everyday moments of your life–particularly the more mundane or frustrating moments.  Do you have any stories of when your circumstances shifted after you shifted yourself?  I want to hear your stories. They are so inspiring.

About Steve

Hi, I'm Steve Rice and my goal is to transform simple philosophical truths into practical fuel to revolutionize your life. It's not about self-help, it's about self-reliance. I show you how. Connect with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and let me know how I can help you.

  • Lori Gosselin

    What a a great question Steve – what DO I do to bring joy to my moments! I love how you say: “you can still find joy within the stillness of your soul and in the quietness of your thoughts.” and I think that’s where I do find joy – in the quiet moments. I suppose it’s how you define joy – excitement, happiness, contentment. I love the peaceful, deep joy to be found in the stillness, in appreciation, in awareness of the beauty of life.

    I’ve struggled with that vacation metaphor – how to bring the peace I experience while on vacation home with me. For many years as my vacation was winding down I was asking that question again. When this metaphor came to me in conversation on the LFI porch the other day I saw it. And now I can apply it to the work aspect of my life too. If we can treat all of life the way we treat our vacation – we make the plan and then we execute the plan, then maybe there is peace in that. What do you think?

    Lori

    • Was right in the middle of my reply and lost it all 🙁 Then had 2 back-to-back phone conferences and the landlord’s repairman stop by…so just getting to your comment. 🙁

      This is the key, in my opinion, Lori…the answer for that question–how do I bring joy to every moment of my life?–is going to be different for everyone. I love the point you make about contentment…that’s really what it is, isn’t it?

      And the true secret of it all is what you point out last…our thoughts. That’s why I believe we can experience joy (ie contentment, serenity) even in the toughest parts of life. I think sometimes we think that joy can’t exist side-by-side with other strong emotions like anger and sorrow or sadness. I think that inner sense of joy can be cultivated…a moment at a time.

      In my experience, it’s in the tough moments when joy requires the effort to look outside of the situation to recognize it.

      I love what you said about planning life and then executing the plan. For those of us who love spontaneity or variety a little more, we can create the plan and then engage with life to see where the plan takes us. It’s more of a starting point. There’s really no right/wrong answer…the point is that where once I was rather oblivious, I am aware and awakened to what is possible.

      For that, I experience deep gratitude and yes, joy!