Today I’ve been pondering on joy and fulfillment and how to find it. It was inspired by a blog post I read whose author was feeling a bit flat and low and finding their thoughts wandering towards gloominess because things they’d been doing were coming to an end and they were no longer fully occupied with things to do.
It reminded me how we often rely on “keeping busy” to avoid thoughts or emotions that we don’t want. Or that we go to work, whether for an employer or ourselves and are occupied with tasks to complete and that keep our minds focused on what we’re doing. When we finish work then quite often we watch tv programmes that again keep our minds fully engaged. And that we use these things to give our lives meaning and purpose. So when we’re not doing them and they’ve ended we can feel lost or sad or empty or anxious.
It reminded me of how we put so much focus on Christmas Day, planning what we’re going to eat, give, do – and then spending a lot of time and energy on it, and may feel joy for a short time on the actual morning, only to feel flat when the day’s ended or even half way through. And what do we do then? Usually turn our attention to the next big event – maybe New Year’s Day or a birthday or some other celebration or we start planning holidays.
You’re likely familiar with the retirement scenario. How some people can feel totally lost without their job and the daily patterns they’ve established. They’ve maybe spent many many years putting all their energy and attention into their job and relying on it for a sense of fulfillment and once it’s finished they don’t know what to do. Or the parent who feels bereft when their child leaves home and the role they’ve been playing changes. It’s like their total identity and sense of satisfaction and purpose has been put into one particular thing and when that’s not there then joy and fulfillment becomes elusive.
And have you noticed how once something’s finished it can be like it never was? So the people at work soon forget you. In a couple of months it can be almost like it was a dream. Someone else has taken your place and it’s all moved on. That holiday you went on last week fades quickly and becomes just a memory.
So how do you find joy and fulfillment and experience more of it? What I’ve found is that joy and fulfillment are found in the small things. In each and every moment. It’s that slight shift in perception. If you detach them from any particular event or accomplishment then it’s easier to find them at any moment. Really appreciating what you’re experiencing in the here and now rather than putting your whole focus on later.
So, for example, if you’re engaged in a project at work or some hobby – say you play in an orchestra or are in a choir and you’ve got a concert coming up – then it’s about realising that the joy and fulfillment isn’t limited to the final product but can be found each step of the way. So discovering the joy and fulfillment in the rehearsals, that phone call you make, that conversation you have, the sunlight you noticed whilst sitting at your desk, the cup of tea your colleague brought you.
I believe that the more we’re able to notice and savour the joy of small things, small moments, the greater overall joy and fulfillment we feel and the greater sense of purpose in our lives.
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