Sunday, May 18, 2008

Directions to Joy

Last month, I took my kids to Atlantic Beach for a little rest and relaxation. I hadn’t been to Atlantic Beach before, so, not knowing the way, I got onto my computer and pulled up Mapquest. I entered our hotel’s address and within seconds, my screen displayed the turn-by-turn directions, as well as a map, for our drive. Mapquest noted that our drive time would take approximately 3 hours. But since we had the entire day to get to the beach, I thought it might be fun to spend some of the day seeing interesting sites along the way. I wasn’t sure what those sites might be, but I was hoping Mapquest could locate some for me. And sure enough, there on the screen was a selection labeled “routing options”. I was hoping for an “interesting sites along the way” option. But when I clicked on the link, the only options presented were “shortest time” and “shortest distance.”

Shortest distance and shortest time. Those were my options. Did I want to get there fast or did I want to get there by the shortest path? I wanted neither. I wanted to get there, but I wanted to have a bit of fun along the way. The mapping tool assumed that I wanted to get to my destination the same way as everyone else – fast or short. But I didn’t want to get there fast or short. I didn’t want to get there like everyone else. I wanted to get there the way I wanted to get there.

How much of our life is like the mapping tool? While we know that we want the destination of our life to be happiness, how many of us realize that there are options as to how we get to our destination – options that are as individualized as we are. How we get to the destination of happiness is different for all of us. And it is because of this individualized route that many of us never fine true happiness, or as I prefer to call it, a joyful life. Instead, we live a life driving down the same roads as everyone else, assuming that we are on the road to joy.

We mistakenly assume that what brings on a joyful life is the same for everyone. We assume that those things are money and fame. But does having a lot of money or being famous guarantee happiness? Just take a look at some of the richest, most famous people in the world. They marry and divorce. They do drugs. They have affairs. How happy do you think those supposedly happy people are?

My mother was sure that if she won the lottery, she would be the happiest person in the world. After spending her adult life living with my alcoholic father, my mother had a lot of “issues” – issues with her self-confidence, issues with her weight, issues with teaching me and my brother and sister how to feel good about ourselves. But she was sure that if she could only win the lottery, all of her “issues” would disappear. Of course they wouldn’t have; if she had managed to win the lottery, she would have simply been a very rich woman with a lot of issues.

Joy is not having a lot of money or fame and it’s not about doing the same things as other people. Joy is the feeling that can only come from within you. Joy is the knowledge that your life is good, without having a lot of money or fame and without doing the same things as other people. Joy is deciding what is important to you and then acting on the things that are important. Joy is the choice to say, do and think in a way that supports what is important to you. Joy is driving on the road you want to drive on regardless of what road everyone else is driving on. Joy is beautiful. Joy is a choice. Joy is your choice. Choose joy!

Sonya May
President, Choose Joy, Inc

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