How do you define joy?
Many people confuse happiness and joy. Happiness is dependent upon external circumstances … Joy comes from within.
Who in your life exudes joy? What type of characteristics do they possess? Are they born that way, or do they work to find joy in their journey?
Naturally, as life progresses, we will cross paths with more and more individuals. Each person unique in their own way, highlighted by a wide range of attention grabbing (and worthy) items; the road to a successful career, the impact of supportive parents, an experience abroad, the hardships of life, the list goes on. Each one with a story that’s worth being told, but most importantly a story worth being heard.
As a former college basketball coach for 11 years, I had the opportunity to engage daily with prospective student-athletes, high school coaches, parents, youth basketball coaches, administrators, coaches from other sports, and more. As much as one allowed, I’ve listened to their stories and have tried to peel back the layers to identify who shaped them and how, what motivates them and why, and in what ways and levels do they aspire to impact our world. The ones who made a lasting impact on me (and others) were those who found JOY in their journey through life.
Over the years I’ve discovered that joy in the journey of life can be achieved through the following:
- Having Truth Tellers In Life
- Daily Gratitude
- Intentional Use Of Time
Who are they: These are people in your life you grant permission to speak truth when you need it, not necessarily when you want it. Let’s be honest, most of the time we don’t want it (truth) which is why we may not have many of these individuals in our lives. They are the ones who want to be a part of the DIFFICULT situations to help find solutions. Truth Tellers will help you with the fork in the road and most likely suggest the path that’s less desirable, usually the harder choice.
Why it brings joy: Truth Tellers reveal the blind spots in our lives. They allow us to learn and grow by identifying behaviors that may be ineffective or even worse, destructive. Truth Tellers show up during hardships and lean into difficult conversations. I’ve discovered that Truth Tellers bring joy into our lives because they are consistent and reliable. Point blank, you know what to expect from them and you can count on them.
Tips for becoming or identifying one: Tell the truth, tell it timely, and tell it all the time.
What is it: During my last two years at the University of Cincinnati, our basketball program preached “Attitude of Gratitude.” Despite whom carried the weight on a project, our staff focused on giving credit to others. Gratitude makes us less self-centered and allows us to spend more time thinking of others. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is a book that can permanently change the way you view the world, how you view life, and how you approach each day. Despite being in a concentration camp, Frankl writes in his book “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” No matter the magnitude of that “thing” in our life, Frankl’s describes an attitude of “I get to” rather than “I have to” in his book.
Why it brings joy: Gratitude brings joy to our lives by feeling more positive emotions, building stronger relationships, and embracing adversity. Waking up at 5AM every morning to workout, read, and pray isn’t the easiest, but I’m extremely thankful I am able to do those things.
Tips for possessing more of it:
- Daily phone alerts: Set daily alerts on your phone, something as simple as “Gratitude.” Pause your day for a moment(s) and reflect on what you do have. I have reminders/alerts set for 12PM/3PM/6PM/9PM.
- Journaling: Write down what you are thankful for daily. My journaling is woven into my morning routine.
- Meditation/Prayer: Carve out 5-10 minutes of your day to take stock of the items you are grateful for.
Intentional Use of Time
What is it: Ever heard or used any of these phrases recently? What about daily?
I’m busy….They grow up too fast…Where has time gone?...How is it Monday already!?...Enjoy it (kid’s growing up) while you can …
Time is our most expensive possession, are we wasting it or using it? In business, we want the “biggest bang for our buck,” why wouldn’t we strategize the same way with our time? In the years I coached college basketball, time was extremely limited. From the months of September-March, unless it was Christmas, we never had a full weekend off. It was the nature of the beast of college athletics.
I finally took my own advice and made a career change. As I transitioned from a basketball coach to insurance coach, I began to view open evenings and weekends as “vacations.” I now understand the opportunity of a weekend and hate when I waste a day.
Why does it bring joy: Being intentional with our time allows us to maximize and understand the importance/value of time, thus being careful about how we utilize the hours of our day. Although time may feel like it flies by for both the unintentional and intentional individual, what do you have to show for it? Are you investing it, or wasting it?
Tips for achieving it:
- Make family time a priority. A local pastor told a story that after visiting hundreds of people on their death beds, not one of them ever said they wished they spent LESS time with family.
- Create a morning / evening routine. Build habits into your day that allow you to do the things in your life that bring out amounts of joy. I work out, read, pray/meditate, journal, and listen to 2-3 short podcasts by 8AM each day. I’ve also planned out my weekends ahead of time so it’s not the same rinse and repeat.
- Focus on experiences rather than stuff. Be creative and innovative with ways to create memories. For example, think about the difference between a picnic in a park and a meal at a restaurant.
Although we may not be able to control the events of life, we do have the ability to control our responses to them. In my experience, those who have joy in the journey of life have better outcomes because they are willing to hear the truth, reflect on life’s blessings, and understand that time is our most prized possession.
We all have access to joy, but it begins from the internal, not the external. If you have it, please spread it. It’s a story worth sharing!