Joy isn’t the goal, but the experience we create for ourselves on the way to the goal.
But most of us invert that process. We obsess over the imagined details of some future event, at which point we will finally feel happy and complete and whole. Only then do we deserve joy.
This carrot on a stick approach can be highly motivating for some. The only problem is, it’s a pattern of thinking that can undermine any joy that might be had along the way.
By postponing our happiness, we separate ourselves from the ecstasy of the moment. What’s more, it sets us up for disappointment if we fall short of our goal.
Meng’s radical book about joy on demand, which explores the art of discovering the happiness within, makes a practical suggestion:
Accelerating towards joy, we ought to front load joy in the process. To introduce joy from the beginning, rather than waiting to discover it at some point years from now, risking that we don’t get there. Joy is not unlike a close relative, a favorite member of the family, someone we can always rely on to be there for us.
Meng’s argument is a strong one. We reward ourselves not only for accomplishing goals, but also for setting and reaching milestones along the way.
And not unhealthy rewards like eating four slices of chocolate cake. But wholesome sources of joy, uncontaminated with greed, ill will or the seeds of future suffering.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s your favorite way to front load joy into the process?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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