Finding What Brings You Joy

In the Fall of 2016 I received a job offer that I couldn’t turn down. Really, it was the job I had been hoping for. I couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect job for me. I dove in head first and before I knew it I quickly got swept away in a wave of stress and I was drowning. It had been a challenge to pull myself out of it. The stress that I dealt with over the last few months wore me down so much that I kept getting sick. I had colds, upper respiratory infections and even a very stubborn flu. Even my relationships were suffering. I was miserable. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t having any fun. And I felt stuck

On one of those days sick in bed, I took some time to reflect. What was it that once made me so happy? What helped me get through those difficult and stressful times? I sat up in bed and reached for my book shelf where I keep some of my journals over the past few years. As I flipped through them, old feelings resurfaced. It was writing. Since I was a child I had always loved writing. For me, it was a quick an easy way to alleviate stress. It was an outlet. It gave me a voice. That piece of paper heard me when no one else did. Through writing I’ve created worlds much better than my own. I’ve traveled through time and across the world.

I closed my journal along with my eyes and asked myself, “how could I have given up something that brought me so much joy?”

On another day, I walked past the book shelf I keep in my living room and some of my books caught my eye. There on the bottom shelf was a book series I had started about 2 years ago but never finished. This was a series that allowed me to escape reality. I recalled sneaking time to read these books every chance I could. Early in the morning before work, sitting at the kitchen table while eating dinner and even an hour of reading before bed. It had made me so happy. How could I have ever given that up?

And then one day on Facebook, a video of a musician that I had adored for years popped up on a site that I followed. Listening and watching him play one of his pieces brought me back to when I used to listen to his music all day everyday. Why did I ever stop? (Check out Ludovico Einaudi’s music. Some of the most beautiful music you’ll ever hear)

Why do we give up the things we love? Why do we give up the things that bring us joy?

This is something that we all ask ourselves at some point. On and off throughout our lives we go through stages where we get caught up in something else and neglect the things that brought us joy. It could be a new job, a new relationship, a new role as parent or spouse, or could be a stage of loss or a time of financial hardship. It’s hard to see the light when you’re at the core of the tunnel. And we need those moments of joy to balance out the contrast of the hard times.

My challenge to you today is this: Take some time to reflect. Think of some of your happiest times from your past. What added to your joy? Was it painting? Reading? Going for walks at the park? Having a pet? Think it over. Jot it down. Pick one thing off your list and do it today. And as you’re doing it, note how you feel. Hold on to that feeling.

Heed the words of Joseph Campbell and always “follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

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