Satisfaction in our careers and our lives has to do with being conscious and paying attention to each moment as it unfolds, and trying to meet it with as much presence as possible. It is not about waiting until tomorrow to wake up; it is about completing your birth now, and coming more fully into your life now.
Too often we delay allowing ourselves to feel good, because there is always something to do or accomplish. And when you do accomplish a task or project or even receive recognition or an award, how long do you allow yourself to feel good? The moment passes, the recognition dims and then you are off to the next project. What would happen if you allowed yourself to feel good now no matter where you are or what you are doing?
If I asked you to describe “feeling good” you might say that it is happiness. It seems the majority of people are chasing happiness most of their lives. There is a kind of an obsession with happiness. When was the last time you really felt happy? And how long did you feel this way? Happiness tends to be momentary and fragile and is usually based on getting what you want. It almost always comes from doing, getting and having.
What about feeling good based on being who you are? This is what I call “joy.” Everybody’s known joy at certain times when they were doing absolutely nothing. Joy can come from simple things like laying in a hammock, or sitting on the beach looking at the waves of the ocean.
Joy is very often experienced in a passive modality-you’re watching your child take his first steps or a friend graduate from college. Observing the momentary happiness in another brings joy to you.
Joy is always present in a sense. There’s a kind of hysteria in certain qualities of happiness, whereas joy is deep and grounded. From joy you can help others. From happiness you often can feel separate from others because you got something and they didn’t, but everybody experiences joy. It’s our birthright.
The ironic thing is we have almost no contact with joy because of our obsession with happiness. Many people on their deathbeds say: “You know, I got everything I wanted. There were lots of moments of happiness. But if I had to be truthful, there was very little joy.” Happiness tends to be fragile, momentary, coming and going, impermanent. It is there one moment, then the shouting or blaming the next.
As you live your life and make decisions about your career and work, do your best to realize joy every day. As you go about your day, periodically say “Stop” to yourself and come fully into the moment. Don’t think about what you have to do next, but just “Be” even if it is only for a few minutes. Absorb where you are and the goodness and joy of what you are now experiencing. At the very least look around a be grateful what is good in your life. Joy is here right now and all you have to do is recognize and allow these feelings into your life no matter where you are or what you are doing.