This month, we’re talking about Living for Joy. On Friday we’ll have our first official “challenge,” in which we’ll remember what we have to be joyful about, no matter what our circumstances. I hope you’ll join me for that! And feel free to steal the button above.
Today, though, Ben’s posting again, this time on “living life in the moment” and enjoying the phase you’re in. It’s something he’s been pondering, and it fits in perfectly with this month’s theme, so here he is!
Several events happened today that made me dwell on contentment, and it’s been on my mind lately in general. On my way to work this morning, the radio hosts were discussing a recently released survey. Apparently there is some credence to the phrase “somebody’s got a case of the Mondays!” On an average weekday, people complain 22 minutes each, whereas on Monday, they complain 34 minutes. I guess that makes sense since most people live for the weekends. That’s not what I found interesting; I think that most people who work at a “job” know that people protest loudly on Monday. What I did find interesting is that the average person complains at least 22 minutes a day. That is astounding to me. Not that I’m suprised most people complain, but that it is so much.
Are our lives really that bad, that we need to spend that much time each day complaining about it? That is 133 hours; almost 6 full days each year spent just complaining. Do we really have that much to complain about? Just a few years ago 30% of the world’s population lived on less than $2 a day. Even today, most of the world lives in abject poverty; without water, food, housing, or clothes. Even if you are unemployed the U.S., there is a very high chance you have an apartment, clothes, and something to eat everyday.
Now before we go any further, I’m not discounting the people who do live in poverty, or are truly struggling; far from it. I think we should all be giving to charities or directly to those in need. This is just context to view your life in. This post is for the 90%+ of Americans who don’t have anything to complain about; and yet we still find things…
He has a bigger house than me… My car is two years old already… I had to spend 10 minutes in traffic to get to work today… Starbucks was out of my favorite coffee… Why isn’t it Friday already…
Contentment is a funny thing; you can take two people in identical situations, but one is happy and the other is miserable. I strive to be the most positive person I can. When people ask me how I’m doing, I often reply “better than I deserve.” I find that if you tell yourself that you’re lucky, you’ll start to feel that way. Dwelling on the negative doesn’t make us feel better, it just keeps us from thinking about anything else. It is very subtle how it all sinks into our language. When I get my next car, my next job, when we take that vacation, or I get that raise; I’ll be happy. But will you? Studies show that you will be for a very short time (days to weeks), but then you’ll be right back to dreaming about your next big thing.
Happiness is about contentment. Realizing that you are lucky to be where you are, regardless of your circumstances; things could always be worse. By changing your point of view, you’ll find that the world looks differently. Do I love my job? Not really. I have a good job, I get to do interesting things that I enjoy sometimes, I get paid well, but does it make me happy by itself? No. The reason I like my job is because of how I view it. I don’t work for the weekends; they are just another day. Each day I get up and try to make the most of it.
There is no magic genie that is going to show up and make you truly happy; you have to live each day determined to be happy no matter what. Your boss gives you a hard assignment? Look at it as an opportunity to prove how valuable you are. Your kids frustrating you? Try extra hard to show them you care and remember that they won’t be little for long. The list goes on.
I have often been asked, “If you could be anyone, who would you be?” I used to respond, “I want to be myself, 10 years from now, to be able to enjoy the fruits of my hard work.” In recent years, I’ve changed that viewpoint. Now I respond that I want to be myself, today. The reason is very simple. Since Kate and I became debt free two months ago, I’ve felt a lot of fulfillment and joy from the hard work and sacrifice it took to pay it all off. If we had received a windfall and paid it off without having to work for it, I doubt I would feel that same sense of fulfillment. I’ve learned that you have to learn to live each day with joy, and be glad even in times of struggle, because they help you to truly enjoy times of prosperity.
And that’s exactly why it’s so important to be joyful, today, no matter what! Start counting your reasons to be joyful, and come share them with me on Friday!