What is life without feeling as though you are truly joyful? Are most people you know simply going through life’s motions without much thought? Have they given up on the hopes and dreams they had when they were younger? These are some of the questions I ponder every day when I see my peers at school and work.
It is not an easy question to answer, but according to a new report by the Conference Board, a New York based nonprofit research group, 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work. If more than half of Americans are unhappy in a place in which they spend the majority of their life, then imagine how that impacts other areas of their life.
Many friends of mine do not like their work, so when the clock hits 5 pm, they run out of the office. The problem is that after talking to some of these worker’s significant others, they are bogged down by the negative attitude the other person has since they must go back to work next morning.
As a millennial, this scares me because this pattern of behavior can become cyclic, and it is not somewhere I desire my life to be. Most people I speak to will tell me they had different dreams for themselves when they were younger, but they let others influence the way they lived their lives. We have so many expectations, not only for ourselves, but also for the way society perceives us.
“Just live life. That’s the best way to learn how to act. Just live.” – Rory Culkin
As human beings, we search for the easiest path because we want to save as much energy as we can. But we must fight this course. We must not become complacent, stagnant, or live the same life for seventy years. At any moment, we can change our lives for the better, and although it will be an uphill battle and most people may not understand us, we must do it for ourselves.
When people ask for mentorship, I try to focus on specific qualities that I have read, studied and applied that I know work. Hopefully, you can also apply these in your life as you seek the change you are so desperately craving.
Focus on Seeking Joy, Not Happiness
Having gone through a dark time, one of my mentors pulled me aside and said, “Do not aim for happiness, but for joy!” This was an intriguing concept that I struggled to understand because I hear many people—including myself—use them interchangeably.
Happiness is a fleeting state that is temporary. It is an external feeling that I feel when I get an A on my exam or go to the gym. On the other hand, joy comes from inside. It is living a life in which you have come to accept where you are at the present moment, while knowing you do not need to stay there. It is having your heart broken, and instead of jumping into another relationship, simply coming to peace with your current state in life. You will make it past your current situation, and you just have to keep moving.
Joy is a stronger feeling than happiness. It lasts based on how you view yourself. When you feel as though you have given it your all in your marriage, work, and in developing your relationships, always strive to give more.
When I go over my gratitude list, I do not become happy, but joyful because it gives me a sense of inward peace and relaxation knowing what my list expresses moments and places in my life where I can go to truly remember who I am. An example of a statement on my list is, “I love cruising in my Camaro blasting whatever music I feel like listening to at the moment.” This is something so simple, yet it is something that I have been doing for years and it brings me such euphoria. When I am present in the moment—such as with the example of gratitude—the simplest things in life become joyful.
Focus on Your Relationships
I was once told, the quality of your life is determined by your relationships. This could not be more true. With more than half of people’s first marriages ending in divorce, I asked forty-five divorced couples what they believe led to to their fall. Thirty-five out of forty-five stated one of these two phrases: “He or she got lazy,” and “They changed.” When I thought about this and became more inquisitive with the interviewees, I realized that someone in the relationship had become complacent and had stopped trying.
In life, we either move forward or end up left behind. There is no such thing as staying in one place. We have to always strive for greatness in everything we do. An example of this is my current relationship. My significant other loves to talk on the phone, but it is something that I have always struggled with. Nonetheless, she loves it, so I have to consciously be aware of this when she calls and wants to talk.
Make your relationships your focus because what will success taste like if you no longer have the best people in your life with whom to share it?
We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” – Ellen DeGeneres
Focus on Your Body Language
The best thing about being human is that we can condition ourselves to respond to stimuli in specific ways. For example, when I am feeling sad, I make sure to expand my body, stand up straight and smile. I will hold these positions for a while until I feel better. This is not magic, but the power of the body and mind connection. We can influence our behavior by changing our body language, mindsets and hormone fluctuations.
Many people are not even conscious of the way they express themselves. They say they are happy, but I can tell based off of their body language that they are not. Generally, the body does not hide one’s feelings. So make your body, mindset and words match.
Have you seen someone who has an infectious personality and you cannot quite explain why? I certainly have, and what these people have in common is that their body language is in harmony with what they are saying. It is a rare quality, but make a conscious habit of thinking about the way you are sitting.
We need to break this cycle of anguish with our work by changing jobs and taking a calculated risk. Leave your relationships that are holding you back and only associate with people who encourage and help you become the best version of yourself as the years go by. These are not easy feats. I have to remind myself every day that there is an end goal. If from the moment we wake up till the moment we lay our head on our pillows we are conscious of this, we will be able to take consistent action toward our life goals.
When you are at the end of your life, it is pertinent that you look back and realize that you did not choose a life, but that you lived one. You gave it all you had, and with each moment you took a breath. You lived.
I would love to hear from you! What are some ways that you truly live on a consistent basis?Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.