This time of year, this word gets thrown around a lot. Joy. But why do so many of us struggle to achieve it? Well, for one thing, it doesn’t come with an easy button. Why? Well, primarily because we don’t come with an easy button.
But don’t you wish Joy stood an easy button press away? The problem comes, I think, when we try to realize Joy through quantifiable means. You know, like how successful we are, or how significant (a.k.a., impactful) we are. That gets us into trouble because the measures we use, how much money we make, how many books we sell, how many people follow us or look up to us—all of them come up short. Or to put another way, no matter how high they measure up, they’ll dwindle in comparison to someone else’s success or significance. Call this Joy failure the failure of success and the irrelevance of significance.
I think we run into another brick wall when we equate Joy with happiness—especially if we get into the same measure and gauge paradigm I already described. Happiness concepts can also lead us astray if we treat happy as a synonym for trouble-free or pain-free. Sometimes we have to hold on to Joy even when it hurts, when things aren’t going well, when Joy itself seems most elusive. We struggle to achieve and grab onto Joy because life is hard, and in the midst of all the stuff it throws at us, Joy can fade into a distant mirage.
Ultimately, though, I see that looking for Joy in what I have, in all the blessings already present in my life, is the only way I’ll really not only hold on to it, but enjoy it as well. In other words, if I set aside success and significance—what I don’t already have—and focus instead on satisfaction and thankfulness for what I already have, Joy wins out. Even when it hurts.
That’s what I plan to do this Christmas. Maybe aiming your focus along similar lines of sight will help you appreciate and enjoy the blessings that bring you Joy.