What Brings You Joy? Let’s Find Out.

What Brings You Joy? Let’s Find Out.

What gives you joy? I mean truly gives you joy?

First, notice I didn’t say what makes you happy. Happy is such a temporal feeling. True, we are designed to experience happiness, but we are also designed to experience sadness. Happiness tends to be initiated by an outside feeling, something makes you happy. Joy is triggered by an internal understanding of who you are and what you are feeling in the moment.

Back to joy. If you are like most people, this is a difficult question to answer. Oh sure, we have imagined joy. We say things like I would love it if I could retire at 50, or spend hours alone reading a book, or spend time in the mountains. But we often contradict what we actually do to achieve joy. We retire at 50 and are still miserable; after 30 minutes of “alone time” reading we put the book down and pick up the phone to call someone, or we never make time for a hike in the mountains even though the trails are only an hour away. Others of us have what I call “anti-joy.” We answer the question by saying what doesn’t bring us joy. We say things like, I know what joy is NOT. It’s not picking up after my kids constantly; It’s not working for the company I work for. So back to the question, what gives you joy?

While I can’t answer the question for you, I can tell you what gives me joy and share my way of discovering the answer.

What gives me joy? I struggled with this question for a while. When I was young, I was too busy studying, working, and trying to make good choices to ever think about joy. I settled for being content and satisfied. Once I had my two boys, I then pushed joy away as I thought my role was to worry about others, and not to worry about myself. But as the boys grew older, I realized that if I don’t have joy, how can I model that behaviour for my sons. Then I started to think, and think, and think. And I realized that what gives me joy is seeing others succeed. There are so many negative images in the world. It seems like everywhere we turn we are told how we fail and the mere thought of talking about success tends to let people label you as arrogant or cocky.

Then one day a friend asked me to coach a girls’ basketball team. At that point I was coaching a boys’ team. While I thought I had the skills, I wasn’t sure if it was something I would enjoy. That was more than 10 years ago and I can honestly say that I coach almost as much for the joy the girls bring me as I do for the skills and training I get to share.

Where does the joy come from? It comes from seeing the girls succeed in an environment where they can be aggressive, passionate and tough, but at the same time are polite, sharing and caring. In short, I get to see these girls unencumbered with what society tells them they should look like or should act like. I get to also see them succeed (as evidence by the picture where we won a local tournament).

For the past three years, I take two weeks away from my job to go on the road with my team. We play games in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and it gives me so much joy to see them succeed (even if we lose).

So my advice for you on how to figure out what gives you joy is to think about what do you want to have in your life. Then how can you go about bringing that picture to life? Once you find that thing, I suggest you go and do that thing!

Enjoy Joy!