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?
For 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
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.
(click the quote/image to tweet it)
What Do You Do to Bring Joy to Your Moments?
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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.