St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, so as I considered what to write about this month, I thought it would be a good time to talk about luck and its effect on joy.
We often see someone who seems happy most of the time and think, “They’re so lucky. They must not have to deal with the problems I have to deal with.” But being joyful isn’t something that some people are born with and the rest of us can’t reach; it’s something that you choose.
Now, before I get into choosing joy, let me acknowledge that luck can absolutely play a part in joy. None of us are without problems, but some of us are born into circumstances that make it more or less challenging to be joyful than it is for others. Aside from those circumstances, you may meet someone by chance who becomes a close friend or significant other, be in the right place at the right time to learn about a fulfilling job you’re passionate about, or, on the other side of the spectrum, have the bad luck to lose your job when your company downsizes, for example.
If you’ve read any of the JoyPowered® books or been following us for a while, you know that we constantly emphasize that joy is internal, not external, so you do not need to be born into luxury and safety and have a supportive family, close friends, a perfect marriage, well-behaved kids, and your dream job to be joyful. Those things can bring you happiness, but not joy; joy happens when you make peace with yourself and your life. However, difficult circumstances can make it that much harder to choose joy, and from that standpoint, luck is a factor in joy.
It is definitely not the only factor, or even the most important one.
As we often say, being JoyPowered® doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive, but it does have to be intentional. You could wait around hoping that you’ll luck into joy, but that’s probably not going to work out for you. You have to identify what brings you joy and what saps you of joy, think about what steps you can take to increase your joy and minimize the things that decrease it, and choose joy even when it’s easier to focus on the negative.
Your coworker that seems to love their job and always look forward to going to work probably didn’t just luck into the perfect situation, and they probably wake up sometimes and would rather do something besides work that day. But they’re choosing to focus on what’s positive about their work, consider others’ strengths instead of fixating on their weaknesses, and create opportunities to do things they’re good at and that bring them joy.
Your friend who appears to have the perfect family has problems just like the rest of us. But, again, they’re choosing to focus on strengths over weaknesses and put in the effort to find what makes them and their family members joyful instead of thinking about all the things that aren’t going the way they wanted them to go.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that this is easy, or that others are choosing joy 100% of the time and you’re just whining. But next time you’re feeling less than joyful, consider what you might be able to do about it, whether that’s taking your mind off the negative and thinking about something positive, reframing your thoughts about the situation, or doing something you know brings you energy and joy.
So, as you journey toward a more joyful life, I’ll wish you good luck – but I also know that you can find joy without it!