Did you know that life is supposed to be fun? I mean really fun.
Enjoying our lives is not a bonus or something for a lucky few. Far from being the icing on the cake, it’s a central and essential part of a normal healthy existence.
Right at the very core of who we are is a deep thirst for happiness that we spend our lives attempting to quench. In the food we choose to eat, the people we spend time with and the films we watch, we’re searching for enjoyment.
This desire is proof that you and I are supposed to be happy; it’s not possible to be hungry for something that doesn’t exist, is it?
We can’t go long without getting peckish because we’re designed to eat regularly. In the same way, joy is supposed to be a staple, providing essential nourishment on a daily basis. As food gives us strength to continue living, so does joy.
When the hunger isn’t met
When our hunger for happiness isn’t met for a prolonged period of time, we stop functioning properly, and become something or someone that deep down we are not. We live a half existence.
Being joyful on the other hand enables your true self to be expressed in all of its splendour.
What are the joy levels in your life like? If the answer isn’t encouraging, I’d like you to know something. Today can be the day that things turn around. Today is a big day for you.
Because being happy is such an integral part of who you are, it’s crucial that you don’t ignore the absence of it for a moment longer. No matter how you feel right now, it is absolutely true that your whole life can be flooded with joy.
To get there, there is one awesome secret that I want to share with you, which if you can grasp, will radically change your life. Before I get to that though, there are a couple of other points to cover.
1) Do something about it
It’s easy to forget that you and I are responsible for our lives. If we are not happy, we are the only ones that can do something about it.
Ask yourself, what is it in my life that is preventing me from being happy? Then ask, what can I do about it?
As we sat in his living room, a wise friend once asked me, ‘Tom, are you happy?’ I was taken aback. Honestly I’d never thought about it before. I contemplated the question and realised that there was a lack of joy in my life.
As I thought about why that could be, I realised that a job I was doing on Saturdays was really getting me down. I just didn’t enjoy it; I had to get up super early and it was really boring. I spent a lot of time dreading it.
So I quit, and it felt as though a small planet was lifted from my shoulders. Sometimes it’s that simple.
Maybe there’s something in your life like that. Maybe you don’t have to stay in that job that isn’t fulfilling, or perhaps there are better places you could live besides that dingy flat.
Often the thing stopping us from seriously considering taking action to change our circumstances is money. We think we can’t afford to do anything.
The truth though is that in the long run, we can’t afford not to do something. The cost of not living a happy life will greatly surpass that of losing out on a bit of cash.
If our whole lives are a grind, we kill a part of ourselves. With half of us gone, we can no longer fulfill our potential. We prevent ourselves from doing the things that we were actually made and designed to do.
By making proactive choices to help resurrect that childlike joy we once knew, we will gain the ability to achieve more than we ever thought possible. Investing in our happiness will undoubtedly pay off, because you can do infinitely more as the happy you! Doors will open you never thought existed.
I promise you that at end of your life you will not regret prioritising happiness over success, wealth or power.
If you thought I was beginning to sound a little self centred, another of the main ways to grow in joy is to start giving.
We can’t have happiness without altruism. Give your time to people – visit and befriend those who have no one. Dish out your money. Volunteer. Do stuff to make other people’s lives happier, and in doing so Mr or Mrs Misery will start to crumble away.
Don’t put up with anyone’s refusal to acknowledge your need for happiness. Do what you need to do to set boundaries so that those people no longer have the ability to steal joy from you.
Sometimes we can find that certain people sap our energy and wring us dry. They might be good people, who wouldn’t want to cause us any harm. But from time to time, some have such great needs that they consume so heavily from their surroundings.
It’s important to have boundaries in place for when this happens, because if we allow ourselves to get sucked dry we’ll have nothing left to give out to them or anyone else. We don’t do anyone any favours by letting our joy ebb away.
4) The secret you’ve been waiting for
The things we have said so far are important, but there is something even more critical. There is one secret, which is perhaps the greatest key you could ever hold to enable you to unlock a life of incredible joy, fun and adventure.
It can be helpful to change our circumstances in the way we have seen, however we will ultimately never live a life full to overflowing with joy unless we are able to be happy despite them.
Let me explain it this way. Apparently the word joy comes from a latin word that means ‘rejoice’. In other words, the root of joy is to rejoice. Joy starts with an action – the action of rejoicing.
That’s the wrong way around, you’re thinking. We are used to the concept that feelings precede our actions; we generally wait until we feel happy before we have a laugh, beam at people in the street or start dancing on the tables.
However, choosing the life of real happiness means that joy is no longer based on feelings alone, but on choices. When we choose to be happy in spite of what our circumstances tell us to feel, joy follows. As Abraham Lincoln put it, ‘folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.’
This is something that I’m finding so amazing in my life right now. I’ve found that I can decide to be happy, because… why shouldn’t I be? I was made to be, it’s my default setting. Being full of joy is the norm, not an exception. Why do we always demand a specific reason?
When you don’t feel too good, just try acting happy. Sometimes I just start laughing (when I’m well out of earshot!) until I feel joyful. Now you think I’m mad, but before you swiftly close this tab, let me persuade you that this isn’t denial. It is in fact the opposite.
By deciding to be happy through rejoicing – by returning to joy – you’re simply embracing the truth that you are meant to be happy. You are making a powerful statement that joy is your birthright, that you are not willing to allow circumstances or anything else to dictate when you experience it.
There are lots of things we can do to return to joy in this way. One good way is through gratitude. Train yourself to think about all the things you have rather than those you don’t.
Consider the food you get to eat. Isn’t it so awesome that there is such a crazily dazzling array of things available to give us sustenance? Why isn’t there just one standard thing to give us all the nutrients we need, like sweetcorn? Imagine if sweetcorn was the only thing we could eat? That would be really boring.
If you can walk, be thankful that you can move freely. If you live in a pretty place be thankful that world is full of immense beauty.
This way of living is so fun because it puts you back in charge. You don’t have to wait to be happy any more!
Give it a go, and let me know how you get on. It takes some getting used to, to think in this way; we’re so used to being told how to feel. Just keep going, and have some fun!
Go ahead and share this with you friends if you plan to try it out. Thanks so much.