Recently I got into a little spat with a dear friend over the concept of finding joy in the everyday.
I mean, we all constantly hear friends (and strangers) talk about how their job doesn’t bring them enough joy. And as a result, there’s this massive societal shift towards self-employment. We think the joy must be deep down inside ourselves; employers and systems are just getting in the way. (Controversial comment of the day: Ponzi schemes are thriving.)
All we’re really searching for is joy. All we really want to manifest is joy. All we pray for is joy. But then we also disclose to one another on the DL how sometimes we experience more joy leading up to the thing, than throughout the actual experience we’e been asking for.
We’ve been designed to expand the scope of our goals after we achieve one. It’s how our society thrives and excels. But it’s a trait that can backfire when applied to the material.
And controversial to our systems of belief, we often experience more joy doing something grueling…. if it’s an act of service. And that joy often persists long after the task is over.
And even more convoluted – our current generation seeks joy more than any other, but statistically has less. Our grandparents never pursued jobs that resonated with their egoistic sense of self-worth; they were content living simply, putting food on the table for their family. It wasn’t even a thing.
So what’s the algorithm?
I think it’s some sort of equation like:
j = o (jc)/r
How much ownership do we take for our own joy conception, while simultaneously relinquishing to the things we can’t control?
All my life I’ve been asked what my life goals are – what do I want to be when I grow up? And I’m so far from being an Einstein – I never once said ‘happy.’ I said pediatric-surgeon-hairstylist-mom. Obvi.
And then I pursued medicine with a vengeance. And The Dude Upstairs really let me go for it. I worked in hospitals all over the coast of California for a good five years, up until this college professor failed 100% of his chemistry class and I was forced to take a good hard look at the innate frustration math brought me. I analyzed my habits and preferences and realized I really just liked working with people – sick or otherwise. And thus rerouted my life to Comm Studies & Marketing.
And then everything started to fall into place.
So then the questions of what will you be continued, but there was the undying implication of money. How will you be? Well Comm + Marketing = PR or Sales. So I pursued both, more or less. And I was successful.
Until one day I looked inside my soul, looked down at my dragging feet, and felt the weight of the day. I had achieved exactly what I was after, but felt unaligned.
This time I dared to tip my head back and ask the universe: “What the hell do you want me to be when I grow up??” And it bellowed back: “Creative you dummy. Apply what you already do in your personal time with the skills you’ve acquired through the endeavors. Pursue that.”
Oddly everything fell into place once more. Quickly. I completely rerouted. And yet, those years in sales and events were still so incredibly applicable in my new venture as a creative. So nothing was a waste.
I was fully supported regardless of the track. In fact the spells of non-satiation were in and of themselves blessings to help me realign.
If I knew at 17 that I would never be a doctor, I wouldn’t have spent so much time in hospitals, and I wouldn’t have acquired the skills and experiences and friends.
So I hate to break it to you, but by saying “this isn’t what I ultimately want” … you’re missing out.
And here’s the real kicker: Regardless of which path I’m following, each and every venture is an important endeavor. I’m contributing to something; I’m a part of a system; supporting someone else’s dreams; enabling someone to pay their bills and keep their family afloat.
And so, I think it’s crucial we find joy in all the things.
On a large scale, yeah it’s freakin’ awesome if you can configure your life’s mission and spend your 8+ hours each day as a functioning member of society contributing to your bigger goals. But so often we chase goals only to figure out that they’re not what we want. So why mitigate the small tasks, the day to day? What about simply finding joy in a job well done?
There are people in other parts of the world who don’t have the option of finding a job that even remotely resonates with their personal desires. Why does everything have to be on par with what we ‘want?’ Why can’t we find joy in the smaller moments of good hard work?
It’s crucial to remember that you will always have a “shit sandwich” to consume.
A phrase coined by Elizabeth Gilbert because there will always be the things you need to do that suck, but contribute to the bigger goals. Sometimes it’s a paycheck, sometimes it’s the crappy parts of your job.
But holy hell, there’s a joy that comes from discipline. So many people tell me they don’t work out because they don’t like it. I don’t like it?? I don’t like waking up at 5 AM, skipping cheese, avoiding the candy section of the store, downing apple cider lemon water instead of wine, eating kale at home so I eat less and spend less when I go out with friends. But these are the crappy things that contribute immensely to my overall life quality.
I firmly believe in eating food that maximizes my dollar and health each day – i.e. beans, rice, oatmeal, peanut butter, flax, kale, zucchini, tofu – to balance out the tuna tartare and lobster rolls. Can you imagine if I couldn’t find joy in the tofu and flax?
I still gripe and gossip and complain… but the things I can’t avoid that I have to do repetitively…. well why torture yourself?
So enough of this idea that we’re supposed to be happy and content all the time. This is a fallacy propagated by social media. We’re supposed to suffer and be confused and work our asses off and struggle through – BECAUSE THIS IS LIFE.
If life is one big Harry Potter series (which I firmly believe it is), then I have no intention of skipping the hard or menial parts. I want all the challenges and adversaries and wrong roads and mistakes. Just as I want the victories and epiphanies and friendships.
Which means, I need to put in the work and suck it up. On the day to day. We all do. And I swear there’s a joy embedded in that practice.