15 Apr 2016

Joy Won’t Come to Find You, But Stress Will.

The world we now live in is different than before. Communication is instant and every email we receive can create a subtle pressure on us to respond immediately. We leave our desk for a short time and 20 more have arrived in our in-box and that pressure builds. We’re trying to be good leaders, parents, partners, friends – but it often feels like the spinning plates might come toppling down at any moment.
What happened to feeling care-free? What happened to the days that felt like they would last forever, when joy was an abundant resource and we smiled constantly? The summers were hotter and longer, or at least that’s how I remember it. But I also remember that in those days I made time to go out and find joy. It didn’t come looking for me.
Joy is hidden everywhere, ready to be found. It could have surfaced during your chat with your team member this morning about their weekend plans – if only you hadn’t been distracted by the email that just came in. You might have found it in your cup of coffee, if only you’d really tasted every mouthful. You’d have felt it in the warmth of the sun on your face as you stood on the station platform, if only you hadn’t been checking your emails. Perhaps you save joy for weekends and holidays; taking time to savour the verdant green buds opening up in the spring sunshine when walking with the dog or the evocative scent of salty seaweed as you run along the beach or the squeals of laughter erupting from your three year-old as you push her higher on the swing.
Joy won’t come to find you. It won’t tap you on the shoulder when you’re busy and say ‘hey, remember me?’. It won’t show up on the screen of your smart phone, or find it’s way through your distracted thoughts. It will be happy to meet you though – in the present moment. You don’t have to be still – just present. You can get through all of those things on your list – but if you do them with a settled mind and an open heart and an alertness that joy is right there beside you, it’s amazing how often you’ll feel its’ presence.
And it’s also worth remembering that joy and stress can’t exist simultaneously – so focussing on what’s enjoyable about the present moment rather than worrying about what happened in the past or might go wrong in the future will create the calm presence that good decisions are made of. Joy won’t come to find you, but stress will flourish in a joyless vacuum. What will you do today to find a bit of joy?