Why A Joyful New Year Is Better Than A Happy One (and How To Find Joy In 2018)
If I told you the story of some parts of my 2017, you’d think it was awesome. Launching my first book, writing for Huffington Post, becoming a top writer on Medium.
But if I told you a lot of other things, which are still tough to talk about, you’d think it was a tragedy.
And that kinda sums up my year.
It’s not been a ‘happy’ year — but it’s been a joyful one. Because there’s a big difference between joy and happiness.
Happiness is dependent on our circumstances — it’s root word is from ‘happenstance’, which is linked of course to ‘circumstance’. So being happy is a temporary feeling or experience, which is directly linked to our circumstances.
Which means this whole idea that ‘I just want to be happy’ is flawed — because the reality of our lives is that circumstances just don’t allow us to be happy all the time.
If we want to be eternally happy, we’re going to be disappointed.
Joy, on the other hand, is completely different.
Joy is about somehow being able to smile or find a moment of contentment or pleasure even in the lowest, darkest moments. Not simply being positive even when things are bad, but being fully present in every moment and somehow being able to smile.
I discovered this in 2017.
In 2017 I was taken to the absolute end of myself, to the lowest, darkest, loneliest, most afraid I’ve ever been in my adult life. I’ve confronted many demons from my past, my own blocks to living a thriving life, the learned behaviours and barriers I’ve put up for 20 years.
I’ve unlearned, as much as I’ve learned. And I’m still in this process of learning and unlearning, deconstructing and reconstructing — not just my faith but my identity, who I am at my core.
I’ve made huge progress. But as I achieved it, I’ve chosen to keep going, keep pursuing growth. And this leads me to more risk, more questions, more strongholds which need breaking, and walking a whole different valley.
2017 for me was about confronting my past. Letting go of what has gone, acknowledging how it impacted me negatively (and positively), and practicing forgiveness, connecting with the ‘inner child’ (sorry if that sounds jargon, but it’s true), letting go or detaching myself from old behaviours, attitudes and beliefs. Even launching my book was letting go of something I’d been holding on to for years.
I almost lost my apartment, I couldn’t find work, I had little money. Things were about as bleak as things can get.
I had dark nights of the soul. I didn’t contemplate or plan suicide, but I imagined what it would be like to do it. I very nearly gave up on life.
But I got through it. I persevered. I didn’t give up.
And eventually, I was able to smile back. It took some time, but I got there. I figured out that life would keep going, I’d find a way to survive even if things seemed nightmarish.
Then I was able to find joy. And when I found a job, I was able to celebrate in a more meaningful, joyful way.
And now, I don’t regret a single moment of this experience.
Finding Joy In 2018
For me, 2018, will be about laying foundations and beginning to reconstruct, recreate my life. I’ll be writing a new book. I’ll continue in my new job. I want to do some more travel. I want to do some more coaching. And I’ll continue with the inner work I’m doing, because it’s only just begun.
I want to keep risking, keep choosing to go to the places where it would be easy to hide from, keep making difficult choices — because that’s how we grow ultimately, not when everything is certain and safe and easy — we need an element of risk (or put in other words, faith), in our lives, a bit of uncertainty, to really go out of our comfort zones and grow.
And this may not all make me happy, but it will bring me joy.
Step out and risk, face the truth of who you are, and there you will find growth. You may not be happy, but you will have joy.
In 2017 I’ve learned almost everything is temporary. No job is for life, nothing is certain to last forever, and growth isn’t about reaching a destination, it’s simply an ongoing process of birth, death, resurrection, and then living. We go through this cycle, and if we engage in it, we find life to the full.
If we go through life looking for happiness, we’ll almost always be unsatisfied. In many ways, happiness comes from a scarcity mindset, because it encourages the idea there’s only a limited amount of happiness around, and whenever we are not happy, life sucks.
Happiness and unhappiness are binaries dependent on circumstances. Joy is somewhere in the middle.
At it’s heart, it’s being content whatever the circumstances. And that makes joy preferable to happiness.
So in 2018, choose to find joy whatever your circumstances.
If you have a professional failure, if things aren’t great, if money is tight — then grieve what has happened, sit in the pain, but keep going. Look beyond your circumstances. Don’t give up.
If things are good, sit in the happiness of them, but also remember that things always won’t be that way — it will allow you to be fully present in the happiness, without the illusion that it will last forever.
And that makes the moments of happiness even more meaningful, and ultimately, more joyful.
Do you want to learn to find joy this year, and explore and connect with your true self? If so, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.jamesprescott.co.uk/coaching and we can set up a chat.
Want to begin exploring your creative side & discover you true creative voice? Check out my FREE e-book, ‘Dance Of The Writer: A Beginners Guide to Authentic Writing’ — you can get it free by signing up here.