I have heard it said that the key to happiness is being able to find joy in your daily life, in the seemingly mundane things that make up our everyday routines. And my experience, particularly in more recent years, has proven that to be quite true. The problem is that for so many of us, we do not pause long enough to see that joy. It’s not that there is no joy to be had, it is that we just don’t see it, even when it is right in front of us.
It is no secret, nor should it be a surprise to anyone, that we all get so caught up in the day to day happenings of our very busy modern lives to the point that not only do we not find joy in our lives, but we seldom even notice the people and things around us that could bring us joy if only we stopped for a moment to take them in, appreciate them for who and what they are, and gives thanks for them.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward
Some people refer to this phenomenon of going through the motions of life without really being present as living in a robot-like or zombie-like state. Regardless of the words we use to label or describe it, the bottom line is that we are not present in the moment. We don’t see the people and things right in front of us for the beautiful, amazing creatures and opportunities that they are. We are so focused on where we are going next, on the goal we are trying to achieve, on getting through the day, on getting to our next day off or our next vacation, on getting to the next thing on our To Do list, on reaching retirement, on getting the next job or house, etc. (you get the idea here), that we go through virtually every waking moment of each day not noticing most of who and what is around us, let alone see any joy in those things. The sad and ironic thing is that for many people when they reach their destination (be it the end of their To Do list, the weekend, that next vacation, their next job, the completion of their goal, etc.), they usually find no more happiness than they had previously. Why? Because joy and happiness doesn’t come at the end of your journey to that place you wanted to reach – joy and happiness is found throughout that journey.
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson
Like most of us, I spent many years living for the next thing. I was never quite happy, but I was certain I would be after the next thing. But then I wasn’t. It was a vicious, rather depressing cycle. When I finally decided to let go of the next thing and really experience each moment as it came and went, careful not to become too attached to any one moment though as that can be problematic in and of itself, I finally began to enjoy my life and all the people and things in it. I had spent so much of my life looking for joy and happiness and what I came to realize is that it was always right here, in front of me, the entire time…I was just too busy, too side-tracked, too distracted to notice it.
It is so easy to get wrapped up in the trappings of this modern world, but if we are conscious about the choices we are making, focusing on each individual moment, I do believe we would all experience more joy in our lives. While reaching a specific destination in our lives is important, let us not forget that what is even more important are the experiences along the way – opportunities to learn and grow, to appreciate the people and things in our lives, to give thanks, to create something new, and to experience true joy and happiness.
So let go of your expectations and the single-minded focus on the end goal. Be present in each moment as it unfolds. Even when things become difficult of challenging, there is beauty and joy to be had. Pause to reflect in the moment. Give thanks for what the moment has to offer you, even if it is a difficult lesson. And always remember that at the end of the day, it is about the journey, not the destination. That’s where the joy resides.