In the past few months, I celebrated a milestone birthday. One of the wonders of this phase of life is that with the years comes an accumulation of blessings—the most precious in the form of people and shared memories.
But, as we “grow up,” we also face new challenges. Health challenges, the trials of caring for aging parents, a child that is struggling to make it from teens to adulthood, a career that feels like it’s “topped out”, a dream job that is frustratingly out of reach. And of course, even these pale in comparison to the profound challenges facing so many in our world, simply because of the time and situation of their birth.
It’s not new wisdom, but the phrase that has been in my mind of late is “don’t postpone joy.” Make a sweet memory with your loved ones, connect with a long-time friend, enjoy a delicious meal, take a walk at sunset, tell someone what you deeply appreciate about them, listen to the birds sing, watch a child at play.
But, don’t defer joy at work, either. Send a co-worker a note of thanks. Work with your team to tackle a tough problem and share the singular satisfaction of solving it. Take the initiative to build effective collaboration with a colleague. Help make the next meeting you’re in productive and fun. Notice someone in a service role doing a great job and offer a compliment. Mentor a young person. Hold open the door. Pay for the latte of the guy behind you in line. Bring in a treat to share with your colleagues. Provide a helping hand to someone in need. Organize a donation to a charity that makes a difference in the world.
In other words, gain joy by giving it.
We can’t always defer challenge—difficulties seem to find us, ready or not. But, joy—that’s something we can do something about. It may not seem like much, but it’s the every day things we do to create joy for others and ourselves that ultimately produces overall “joy quotient” of a day, a week, a month—or a life.
Don’t postpone joy—create it. Today.