Bring Back the Joy In Life

February 22, 2016

There’s magic in youth. Unaware of the tensions, trade-offs, and struggles of adulthood, we’re lighter. We laugh more easily. We play more freely. We dream bigger.

Then “real life” steps in. The first disappointment. The first failure. The first break up. We start to realize that life is pretty tough. These letdowns happen again and again. We start to lower our expectations about what’s possible. Each setback is a rock we carry. No one rock is particularly big so we don’t think much of it. But all the rocks combined are a heavy load. Our shoulders slump. Our gait slows. We shuffle through the day. A degree of resignation seeps in.

We want out. But how?

The self-help-industrial complex is willing to take our money and show us “how”. I’ve read much of it. Quite frankly it bores me at this point. Some of it is cliché trash. But even the stuff that isn’t trash isn’t that helpful. It’s often academically correct, but practically clumsy—over-engineered frameworks that are too unwieldy to ever implement.

I’ve found that the most practical way to combat seeping resignation is with seeping joy. Nothing big. No silver bullets. No fancy theories. Just a day at a time. You used to love to paint—start painting. You used to love to ski—start skiing. You always wanted to play piano—take piano lessons. Do something, anything, that puts a smile on your face. It’s not about transforming your life in an instant, it’s about shifting your energy over time.

A small shift in energy here leads to another small shift there. That shift leads to another one somewhere else. Joy comes back slowly. Resignation recedes. You find you’re willing to tackle bigger and bigger challenges with each passing month and year—in every aspect of your life.

Problems are still there, but they don’t bother you as much. You feel more present. Life feels fun again.


[Credit for photo above: John Hudson]