Research has shown once the individual doesn’t worry about life’s basics (food, shelter, and sometimes transportation), material and professional success isn’t a key factor to joy and happiness. At some point it levels off. The more you have whether fame, fortune, or bigger and better items, joy and happiness doesn’t increase proportionately.
Joy and happiness are often interchanged, but they are quite different. You can be very unhappy with life and career and yet choose to find joy in each day. Happiness is a general state that is ongoing with the expected bumps in life’s journey. Joy is a choice.
You can leave the office feeling stressed, exhausted, and a bit weathered from verbal jabs from the boss or potential rivals for the promotion you want. In personal life you might be single, feeling lonely, or enduring an unpleasant spouse in a troubled marriage. Or you may have a growing concern regarding an aging parent. Yet no matter what kind of day you are having there is joy waiting for you.
There are simple joys such as buying for yourself fresh flowers, regardless of your gender, and staying focused on the colors, beauty, and fragrance. A gourmet coffee while decompressing for thirty minutes at a café can be joyful. Or you can savor a scrumptious piece of pie at a local diner known for its pastry. And of course there’s always chocolate. A jog, yoga class, or indoor swim also can be something you do for yourself that provides pleasure and an escape from life’s pressures.
An important contributor to joy is perspective. Age can be helpful, but the passage of time need not be a necessity for discernment. Expose yourself to as many experiences as possible in the here and now and you can benefit from perspective. The perspective of others can be especially valuable. In doing so, personal fears dwindle, insecurities become apparent and manageable, and whatever crisis you think you’re having becomes less consequential.
Joy is found during hardship, tragedy, and professional setbacks if the individual is able to use perspective to put his or her life in context. You don’t need to have lived a half century or three plus decades to benefit from it. Most important, unless you’re going to be executed at dawn – you’re having a good day. Keep perspective and joy will be a faithful companion every day.
Paul Jesep is author of Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis. He is also Founder of Corporate Chaplaincy, a firm committed to spiritual health and wellness for professionals.