“There is no need to reach high for the stars. They are already within you. Just reach deep into yourself!” ~Unknown
I spent years searching for joy. For a long time, I thought that if I did the same things I saw in movies and on TV, I’d become a joyful person.
I also learned from my environment that I’d be happy when I acquired enough material abundance.
I got the toys I wanted and waited for joy to happen. I hoped that a new bicycle, new skis, a new TV in my room, and brand new Nikes would give me all the happiness I craved.
But they didn’t. Well, they did, but it didn’t last for long. I felt joy for a while—or at least I thought I felt it.
Then I wanted a car and I got it. Again I crashed. It was great driving it for a few weeks, but then I got used to it.
Next, I thought I’d feel free and independent if I had a new apartment—when I got that, I’d enjoy life. That lasted for a month or two, and then I got used to that. I can go on, but I think you got the point.
I was always pursuing joyfulness, but never actually feeling it for long. What was I doing wrong?
I was walking the paths that were supposed to lead to joy, right?
Then something occurred to me: What if I’m already on the joy way, and wherever I go, it leads me through joy—joyful cities, joyful adventures, and joyful challenges?
At that point, I started simplifying my life.
I stopped putting as much emphasis on how much I earned, what kind of vacations I took, and what I could buy. Instead, I found joy in reading books, being in nature, and spending time with great friends.
It felt strange at first, but trying this new approach turned out to be a smart choice. If I compare my life now and a few years back, it’s obvious I’m far happier now.
The core principle for me is that joyfulness is always available, regardless of my circumstances.
I don’t go and reach for the joy. I don’t hunt the joy. I don’t pursue the joy. I simply embrace it.
Joyfulness is a lot like air. The air is always there. You just have to breathe it in.
I once read a story about an old man. A youth asked him what his secret was for living to ninety. He responded, “Keep breathing!” The same is true for happiness; in some ways, it’s so simple!
So often we don’t pay attention to the existence of air, or our breath, but it’s always there, sustaining us.
Sometimes I go under water and, after a few seconds, I need to come up for a breath. When I breathe, it feels amazing. It makes me realize I should pay more attention to each breath. It means that I’m alive, still part of the game of life.
Joyfulness is the key to playing this game. And we don’t have to strive to acquire it. We just need to tune into the joy that’s always available, because it’s everywhere.
How do you access it? Watch the simple everyday things you might not usually notice. Start by listening to the sounds of birds, watching the rain, or observing tree branches dancing in the wind.
You could even spend some time people watching, or giving attention to the animals around you.
You might be in a painful stage right now, and watching people or the rain falling may seem like unhelpful, overly simplified advice.
Start then by asking yourself some empowering questions—like, “What can I learn from this experience?” Or, “What’s good in this situation?” Or, if you are more spiritually oriented, “How can these divine signals help with my spiritual growth?”
Above all, get out of your head and observe the world with your heart. When you connect with your natural state and find passion in the simple things, you will experience a joy that you don’t have to chase or pursue. It will be part of you—always available, if you choose to embrace it.
Photo by Benson Kua