Every January it seems like a wave of “New Year, New You” ads and articles hits our social feeds and inboxes. The idea is that we’ve crossed a threshold and can focus on self-improvement. We can really get serious about losing that weight, starting a yoga practice, learning a foreign language, writing that book, etc., etc., etc.
The thing is, that it’s valid to focus on the end of one cycle and evaluate what came before so that we can reorient around the things we desire to create going forward.
Sometimes all of this pressure to buy the books, courses, programs, and products makes us forget why we want any of it in the first place.
Joy. It’s such a simple word. Three letters filled with meaning that is so easy to fade in the hustle of a busy life.
The dictionary defines it this way:
a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
There are other meanings and many synonyms (like bliss, ecstasy, triumph, exhilaration, and more) but I feel that the simple version is most useful.
In the next twelve months, how can you prioritize your life around feeling great pleasure and happiness?
Here are three questions that can help to clarify this:
What would you do less of this year-what things could be reduced?
What would you do more of that would bring you joy?
What would you cut out altogether to make room for more joy?
It’s funny, a word like joy. It can seem out of place in a serious adult life with so many responsibilities. It can seem frivolous or unreasonable at the very least.
As I look at the simplest definition of this word: “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness,” I can’t think of anything more important in life, can you?
What is more important than happiness and pleasure in our relationships, in our work, in our homes, and in our healthy bodies?
It seems to me that a focus on the serious business of joy could transform this upcoming New Year into a space of reforming life along the lines of what matters most.
In an amazing article that eventually became a book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Australian palliative nurse Bronnie Ware shared the things she heard over and over again from those who were preparing to leave this life:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. “This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. “This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. “Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. “Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”
I wish that I had let myself be happier. “This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
Each of these items is related to joy-the feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
As I think about the upcoming year, I want to make a greater commitment to living a life of joy.
I wonder if you have any thoughts about this you’d like to share with me? Please feel free to click REPLY and drop me a note or give me a call. I would love to hear from you. As always, I am here to serve as your friend in the mortgage business.