Author's note: This post was originally published on 11/7/14.
I've been going through a hectic stretch recently with my new business, my son's college search, both kids' sports schedules, not to mention, the necessary day-to-day maintenance that fills my life. Some would say I've been taking a risk by focusing so heavily on external pressures instead of tending to my own internal fires. Sure, long-term it wouldn't be a good idea, but I can't imagine changing my course right now. I'm acutely aware of how fleeting this time is, the year before my oldest leaves for college, and I don't want to miss a minute. It's as if all the years of parenting have led me to this key moment: a launching off point for him, and a letting go point for me.
The other night, while attending an awards ceremony at my son's school, we listened to a young faculty member tell a story about his personal journey. This teacher had worked in the Peace Corps prior to starting his academic career. With posts in war-torn parts of the world, he faced great danger and even spent time in captivity with his fellow volunteers at one point. He credited humor with helping them to survive the ordeal of their imprisonment. "Laughter kept hope alive," he told us. From that dark point, he made a decision to wake up every day, choosing joy.
Here was my wake up call! I asked myself what life would be like if we all chose joy every day? Would our challenges be less strenuous? Would grief feel less intense? Would uncertainty solve itself? Probably not. However, I think choosing joy would give us a leg-up on all of those difficulties, allowing us to start our day with a more positive attitude, in turn, creating good energy that just might sustain us through the inevitable hurdles we will face. Choosing joy isn't a guarantee of happiness, but it could move us towards being more accountable for our personal satisfaction. Instead of blaming the powers of Fate or other unforeseen barriers, we might deliberately choose to take ownership, reject hopelessness and elicit success.
I've always been a person who likes to feel I have a handle on things, to the point where I'm a little uncomfortable with leaving too many details to chance. Organized, yes. Overly precise, sometimes! I haven't met too many people who truly appreciate my preference for order and balance. And I'll admit it does get in the way of spontaneity, at times. But I'm also acutely aware that for some of us, taking control is simply not possible, at least not entirely. I have several friends who are living with cancer. I guarantee if you ask them, they'll say fear and uncertainty are hallmarks of battling their disease. But I'm sure these same brave women would also agree that finding joy in the small moments of their daily lives is essential and empowering to their healing process.
So tomorrow morning, let's give it a try. Let's choose joy. I believe there are unlimited possibilities waiting for us if we do.