Happiness is a work in progress.
Do what makes you happy. Find joy in the little things; We’ve heard this over and over again, slapped on self-help books, motivational memes and every “feel good” post from the beginning of time. Everything we do, or strive for is for the sake of happiness, joy, contentment, elation; that happy PLACE.
For years I used to try to find the big joy, getting my degree, finding my first job, traveling to places unknown, doing big art projects, giving big parties. All those things gave me joy, but all too often I found myself seeking joy like some junkie looking for the next fix. I tried to find it in other people, in pleasing others, in trying too hard for others and in the end the joy not only didn’t remain, it started going disappearing altogether.
The fix wore off.
When we are faced with the herculean task of finding our own joy, the little things take center stage. I have been to countless coaches, healers, and therapists, psychologists but no one can help you better cultivate your inner joy, than yourself.
Being present, focused, in tune, connected, “plugged in” with ourselves; is the recipe for finding, keeping and cultivating joy in our lives.
This does’t happen overnight. (It took me a better part of 25 years to tune in to understanding and accepting joy) What does happen when we shift our focus inwards and by that I mean checking our own shit before anybody else’s is the key to understanding the we can’t possibly be in a perpetual state of bliss all the time, but what we can tap into and discover is that essence of contentment. Some things are going to be amazing and others just satisfactory, but within that range of joyousness, the simple things matter most.
Grand expressions of joy are often marketed to us as milestones. Once you obtain that golden nugget in the video game of life, you’re all of a sudden at the next level! That is a bunch of crap, and we all know it. Building unrealistic happiness goals, and milestones that have nothing to do with our personal ones, has many people including myself in a perpetual state of FOMO. Those quick to blame social media for this phenomenon, forget fashion magazines, television programs and all advertising is geared towards you, the consumer. We are making sure you obtain a good, happy, fulfilled life or YOUR MONEY BACK GUARANTEED.
Now that is a bunch of crap too. And we still buy into it. We still become driven by our deep desire to just BE HAPPY. Like everyone else writing about it, thinking about it, discovering it and trying to understand it; I’ve discovered joy is a work in progress. Joy/happiness/contentment/self acceptance is hard work, it’s internal work. We have to learn to build a full time, 24/7 checking in, self knowledge and commitment contract with ourselves. Or just like our relationships; joy is packaged in a sexy, new, shiny model sports car that five years down the line will inevitably start to break down.
And then what.
We fall apart, we give up on life and try to frantically find yet another thing that will absolutely without a doubt give us 100% pure joy, and the crazy roller coaster takes its ride again. Leading us to really the only conclusion healthy in these often exhausting searches for joy.
Learning to Level the Playing Field.
Joy doesn’t come in neat packaging with a glittery bow on top. I’ve learned the hard way that in trying to idealize joy or anything else for that matter, a touch of reality is lost. My joy, now, after all the struggles to figure out its true nature, is in the small things. The mundane, the unexpected and the profoundly simple. Joy isn’t about what happens outside, but what transforms inside. Despite having heard that for years, it didn’t click until I actually put the work in, to find it, nurture it and allow it to exist in every little moment I’ve encountered.
Joy is in a speck of sand, a summer breeze, the first snowflakes, relaxed nights with friends being utterly ridiculous ( I have video to prove it), It’s about making a meal for one and enjoying it with a nice cool beverage on a balcony in Brooklyn. It is about writing a letter to a friend for her birthday instead of sending a stupid ready made gift. It is about being present, involved, and honest. Joy isn’t hidden in the stuff or the money ( although It definitely helps), but in realizing that, we have the power to create, maintain and share in our joy and our JOY, just cause we can. Shit happens, life is tough, but the moments of joy often overcome, surpass and remain much more valuable than the moments of sorrow. One can’t live without the other, inevitably interconnected; joy and sorrow play a role in peppering our lives.
Joy isn’t the ultimate goal. We can’t remain happy ad infinitum. Forever is a really long time as Prince says, and being realistic and at peace takes a mighty long time as well. I write down my small joys, ones that I know I’ll look back on when I’m not feeling so happy.