The Pursuit of Joy

The new year rushes in with excitement as resolutions are made, goals are set, and enthusiasm is renewed.

However, because we are human, we sometimes bite off more than we can chew. Expectations are not met, life happens, and we get discouraged.

But all is not lost. It’s just time to regroup. The following suggestions are ways to thrive in your life RIGHT NOW.

  1. Stop trying to find balance. It doesn't exist. "Balance" in work, life, family, play is an illusion. The problem is, striving for it and not attaining it leads to frustration. Stop the insanity and FIND JOY IN  SMALL, EVERYDAY THINGS: a glass of red wine at the end of the day, an hour of Guitar Hero with the family, or a little endorphin-increasing exercise.
  2. Be helpful everyday. ACTIVELY SEEK opportunities to help people EVERY DAY. Open a door, help carry something heavy, stop and ask an overwrought mom with a screaming kid at the store if she is OK and needs any help. Taking the focus off of yourself and directing it towards someone who might need it more serves as both a reminder to be thankful for what you DO have, AND demonstrates compassion for others.
  3. Give a compliment. Do you ever see someone wearing a beautiful scarf, providing awesome service, or otherwise catching your attention? TELL THEM. This is a sure-fire way to see someone’s eyes light up. Maybe it’s just what they needed. Maybe it’s just what YOU needed.
  4. Say No. Don't try to do it all. Let the small stuff slide. Quality is better than quantity most of the time. This is hard sometimes, but be aware of the distinction between “should,” “need,” and “want.” There are certain obligations that we need to meet, but many others are self-imposed.
  5. Be thankful. Turn every complaint into a blessing. Some people don't have a house that's messy. Some people don't have a car with a heater that doesn't get very hot. Some people don't have a mom or sisters (or other family members) with whom they can vent, share, or have a laugh.

Practice any or all of the above on a daily basis and you just might find that the resulting moments of joy will yield more peace and happiness than achieving the bigger goals on your cosmic “to do” list.

NOTE: Rewritten for the North Idaho Family Magazine. Original version from December 2009:


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