Guest Post by @KateNasser
Thirty years ago I was saying to friends and family that I wasn’t happy at work. I also told a couple of trusted colleagues. The colleagues said, “You expect to find happiness at work?”
WOW. What a powerful mindset and message. They didn’t expect and didn’t seek happiness at work.
Friends and family showed empathy and asked me questions like what are your goals and what career do you really want. I couldn’t answer either with any clarity.
Can You Find Joy at Work?
It is clear now that what I was looking for joy — an internal spirit of happiness and well being. I don’t think my family and friends knew that any more than I did nor do I think that the colleagues would have changed their answer even if they did know it. They had compartmentalized and separated work and happiness (joy) in life. That, of course, is an individual choice.
Yet something has changed over the last 30 years in American society. People do seek — and even expect to find — joy. I am thrilled to see this progression. I walked the road to joy rather alone except for the help of an insightful career counselor and support from my mom and sisters.
Society at the time did not buoy my journey to find joy, and when I left corporate America to start my own business (one step on my pathway to joy), several people at my job said: “you will fail.” That stung for 30 seconds. Then I realized it was the ultimate sign that I had made the right decision to leave.
It was absolutely clear that for me to find joy, I had to be away from people who didn’t want it, who were afraid of the journey to it, who were resentful of people who wanted it and might get it, and whose daily energy could squash it.
A Few Lessons About Finding Joy
Here are my lessons learned about joy. I hope they help you!
- Joy is important. It sustains my can-do attitude. It buoys and gives me resilience.
- Joy is not the same as constant happiness. Happiness is just the outer layer of joy’s deeper skin. I can be unhappy with daily surface annoyances yet deeper joy keeps me smiling on the inside.
- We don’t plan joy; we discover it. It helps to start with a picture of being joyful. Don’t be too specific. Specifics are always skewed by fears, limits of what is realistically achievable, and every aspect of our present reality.
- Joy is different from goals. People who say things like “life is nothing without goals,” and related quips are saying that they don’t believe in finding joy. You can have goals, reach them, and still be miserable. The world is full of people who have switched out of a successful career because they weren’t “happy” (read “joyful” here.) Don’t get me wrong. Goals are valuable but so is joy. While you are paying your bills and working along on goals, keep looking for joy. I was on my second career and was self-supporting while on my quest for joy.
- Let the quest for joy run in the background of your mind. I use this technology analogy because that is how I let my mind search for joy while supporting myself. Draw a picture of you being joyful or write it down in words if you don’t draw. Then look at it at the start of each day before you go off to work. Why? Because that picture/description in the background of your mind will see opening and opportunities for joy that you wouldn’t see if it wasn’t running in the background. You will see something on TV, in a news article, on social media, with other people you know that are seeking joy just like you, with strangers that you start talking to and BAM you discover something about joy from them, etc… etc…. etc…
- Your joy can’t come at the constant expense of others. Joy is not childish self-absorption. We live in this world together. We must give and take. In fact, you will be even more willing to give and take when you started tasting your inner joy. When you have inner joy, you don’t run over and hurt others. You invite them to share a joyful banquet.
Happiness is just the top layer of joy’s skin.Tweet
True joy has the power to create peace. With joy, you know that you matter, and so do others. You see the world as infinite opportunity, not a zero-sum win/lose game that always hurts somebody. Your joy doesn’t have to cheat somebody out of theirs. Each person’s joy is unique and thus limitless.
I realize that some of these lessons learned about joy may help you while others may leave you wondering. You may even see joy in a polar opposite way. I would love to discuss what you think about joy so I too can continue to expand my vision of what joy truly is. I look forward to your comments below.
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, author of the upcoming book “Leading Morale” started her own business, CAS, Inc., 25+ years ago. She inspires leaders and teams in large & mid-size corporations to the heights great leadership, teamwork, and customer service. In keynotes, workshops, and powerful consultations, she uses humor, facts, and novel engagement techniques to teach how to turn everyday interaction obstacles into supreme success. See her in action on YouTube, on Twitter for her Sunday morning global #PeopleSkills chat (@KateNasser) and through her website KateNasser.com.