By Jeff Miller
For 2014, Di and I each choose three words to represent our central renewed life focus (inspired by Chris Brogan). The idea is for these words to be more than a simple goal to check off our to do list. Hopefully, they become a part of our identity, guiding our efforts throughout the year. For example, rather than resolving to “lose 30 pounds”, choosing a word like “green” as a reminder to eat more natural foods, among other healthier habits.
Words are powerful. They often have different meanings for each person. So in my next couple posts, I’ll unpack the rationale behind each of my word choices.
First up: JOY
My working definition of joy is “a deep, abiding sense of happiness”. Joy is more than just personal happiness. It is deeper than a happy go lucky life perspective. Joy is embracing and abiding in the midst of life’s ups and downs, twists and turns.
Two quotes from Henri J.M. Nouwen helped shape my recent thinking about the interdependent facets of joy:
“Joy and sorrow are never separated… Joy is hidden in sorrow and sorrow in joy. If we try to avoid sorrow at all costs, we may never taste joy, and if we are suspicious of ecstasy, agony can never reach us either.”
“Joy is hidden in compassion…. not happiness, not excitement, not great satisfaction, but the quiet joy of being there for someone else and living in deep solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this human family. Often this is a solidarity in weakness, in brokenness, in woundedness, but it leads us to the center of joy, which is sharing our humanity with others.”
While attempting to keep up with the unrelenting pace of life, it is easy to become weighed down or too serious. Your sense of self, passion and compassion can easily be lost while striving to please others or fulfill the demands/obligations of life.
In order to keep our lives balanced and fulfilling, establishing and maintaining breathing room is important. So, freeing time or space becomes necessary. This will require saying no to some things (likely some good and worthy events or projects)… and to selectively and intentionally say yes to other things. In strategically working through a balance, we can avoid swinging to the extremes of either full abstinence/hermit mode or overbooked/overcommitted. Through our yes choices, we allow ourselves to be authentic, to get out of ourselves and share who we are and our humanity with others.
My personal strategic intentions around joy include finding a fun hobby for myself and taking my wife and daughter on some creative dates this year. I intend to proactively plan various fun outings, as well as work on my ability to be spontaneous and present… experiencing and celebrating life in the moment.