Do you ever pause to ask yourself what you’re doing with your life? Do you ever wonder what your true purpose is? Do you ever think about doing things just for your own happiness?
I believe most of us have these thoughts at least once or twice (more often if we’re truly honest with ourselves), yet they’re often brushed away or replaced with more practical concerns such as the need to pay the bills or feed the family, as though these things are mutually exclusive to living a joy-filled life.
Here’s the thing though – you can live a joyful life AND keep a roof over your head by working a regular job. That’s right: there’s no need to pack it all in and move to a mountaintop in Nepal in order to find joy and inner peace (unless that’s truly what you want). There are simple things you can do every day to cultivate joy in your life and to find meaning in everything you do. Let me explain how.
You see, many of us end up working in jobs that we take through necessity rather than desire which can result in, over time, feelings of dissatisfaction and resentment. In my former life running several contact centres I have seen it a thousand times – call centres are often considered to be the sweatshops of the 21st century and the repetitive nature of the work combined with the incessant flow of calls, one after the other for a workday of eight hours or more a day, leaves many employees feeling exhausted, unappreciated and used.
Having said all of that, I’ve never understood why anyone would choose to stay in a job which makes them completely miserable and, as a manager, I’ve had some pretty blunt conversations with people who were behaving unprofessionally and blaming it on their job dissatisfaction, as though modifying the job to meet their expectations would suddenly make them not behave like a petulant brat in the workplace. This is also something I often come across in coaching, where individuals talk about how unhappy their job is making them. In these types of situations I am quick to remind people that the only thing we each have control over is the way we think, feel and behave. It’s not the job that is the issue – it is you. If you do not like the job, either choose to modify the way you think, feel and act in relation to it, or find another job. I have left several jobs in my career because I was truly miserable in them, and my misery was caused by being in jobs that were not the right fit for me; it’s why I have chosen not to return to my old career path.
If you’re unhappy in your job, then the job is not the right fit for you. Find something that is. It’s not rocket science. This is rocket science.
So why then do some people behave like martyrs whilst others get on with it and find ways to bring joy into their life? It’s simple.
Psychologists talk about internal and external ‘locus of control’, which is essentially a means of describing different personality aspects. Those with an external locus of control tend to believe that life is happening to them, in that they believe it is the external world which shapes their life, whilst individuals with an internal locus of control tend to believe that life is responding to them, in other words that they are in control of shaping their own life.
Ultimately, you create your own life and, therefore, your destiny. Given that the only things we have any kind of true control over are our thoughts, feelings and actions, it’s a safe bet to say that the way we think, feel and act is what creates our own individual world.
So if you’re seeking a joyful life, create it. It doesn’t have to mean sweeping, epic changes to your life – simply choose to do more things which make you joyful, and choose to find joy and gratitude in otherwise mundane-seeming tasks. Here are a few quick ideas to get you started.
- Do you like your job? You don’t have to love it, but at least liking it would help. If so, why? If not, why not? Consider what makes you happy in your job and focus on those aspects – and if the bad outweighs the good, find another job.
- Reconsider your relationship with money. Money is just money; as long as you have a roof over your head and food on the table you will be okay – anything beyond that is gravy: nice to have, but not necessary and certainly not the star of the meal. Joy doesn’t cost a thing.
- Consider what hobbies you have which bring you joy and do more of them. No hobbies? Find some! Think about what you loved doing as a kid and what you’re passionate about now, and then get out and do things that feel like a good fit.
- Be creative. This is an extension of the ‘hobbies’ suggestion above, however I want to encourage you to do really creative things and put them out there in order to share your passions with the world. Do you enjoy writing? Start a blog or write a book and release it; you can self-publish electronically for next to nothing. Do you enjoy public speaking? Start a YouTube channel or join a toastmasters association. Passionate about gardening? Join a community garden that grows vegetables for the less fortunate or a Landcare group which protects the native environment for future generations. The list of ideas is endless.
- Choose joy. Decide that experiencing joy in your daily life is important to you, and make creating joy a priority.
Whatever you choose to do, I would love to hear about it. Leave your comments below and share your own ideas for ways to create joy in your life.
After all, if given a choice between joy and misery, isn’t joy the smarter decision?
My book, Depression? F*** Depression!, is currently on sale on Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle. Featuring 260 pages of practical advice about understanding and dealing with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, it’s part memoir and part self-help guide.
- Available on Apple iBooks HERE for only $0.99 (AUD/USD/CAD)/£0.49/€0.99
- Available on Amazon Kindle HERE for just $0.99 USD/£0.99/€0.99
- Also available to buy in print from Amazon and Book Depository
- A free abridged version is also available on iTunes