I see it all the time. In the rolling eyes of those waiting to get their lunch order taken. On the highway when someone zooms past me going 20 over the speed limit. In myself when I start to believe I’m not where I should be in life yet. Why are we always in such a hurry?
I think we’re all guilty of rushing through life sometimes. We’re always focused on what’s next— on what’s beyond where we are in the here and now. It’s our very human tendency to believe our happiness exists somewhere beyond our current moment.
I’ll be happy once I get a new job.
I’ll be happy once I pay off my debt.
I’ll be happy once I’m not the only single friend.
Well, here’s the deal: If you keep up with this “I’ll be happy when” mentality, you’re going to be disappointed. Every. Single. Time.
Happiness — that pure, unadulterated blissed out happiness— that’s temporary. And it’s quite frankly unrealistic to chase after that high forever. I don’t say this to take you down a peg or send you into an existential crisis. It’s the truth. We can’t always be at peak happiness. But we can always have joy.
This is something my mom always tried to drill home for me and my sister; don’t waste energy chasing happiness, seek joy.
I understand if that doesn’t make an ounce of sense to you. It took me a while to fully grasp what my mom meant by that too. Joy not happiness. Aren’t those the same thing?
Well to, be honest, the definitions are pretty similar:
For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to ask you to set aside what Google has to say about these words for now. If you’d humor me, I’d like to share my definitions.
Happiness is that shock-to-the-system, electricity-through-your-skin feeling of elation. It brings you into the moment. It’s that feeling you have when you’re crossing something off your bucket list. It’s the spark of kissing someone for the first time; the pure delight of a day at a theme park. It’s enrapturing, almost out of your control.
Now joy… Joy is a little more subtle. It’s that tickling warmth in your stomach when someone remembers a small detail about you. It’s the moment of appreciation for the view on your morning commute. Joy is doing the work to create happiness in the mundane moments in between. Joy is gratitude.
Life can be really f*cking hard. It can be boring, tedious, heartbreaking and every single negative sensation in between. But oh, it can be so sweet too.
Let yourself see the good all around you. It can certainly be a challenge on the harder days but I’m telling you, it’s always there for those who seek it. So take a look beyond. Be mindful in every moment you can.
Learn to spot the beauty in the unassuming.
Wake up early. Take some time to be away from your phone. Enjoy the stillness of the world as it’s just beginning to wake up.
Make yourself a good breakfast. Oatmeal and fresh fruit. Eggs scrambled just the way you like. Hell, even your favorite cereal if it’ll start your day off right! Savor it.
Notice all that is beautiful as you move through your day. What is vibrant? What makes your soul sing?
Stop to look at plants. Stop to look at art. Stop to smile at a stranger.
Take a second to enjoy the view on your drive home. Slow down. Take your time.
Crank up your favorite music and listen. Really listen. How amazing is it that a simple melody can connect so many people?
Enjoy every sweet moment in between. That’s where joy lives.
It’s a practice. Some days all you’ll be able to see is the bad. That’s okay! Being a human is hard work. All I ask of you is that you never stop striving to see the good. That you learn to embrace all that is mundane. Because life gets a lot more beautiful when you do!
The majority of our time is spent in between those peaks of happiness. We are only ever in the here and now. So why not strive to infuse every second of it with honey-sweet joy?