How do you find joy in your life?
I believe it is through love. Love of family and friends. Love of your work in the world – physical, mental and spiritual. Love of beauty and laughter.
We usually know what we love, but we don’t always know how to find joy in it.
How do you find joy in your marriage or in your children?
How do you find joy in your work?
How do you see the beauty and laughter all around you?
How do you avoid the poison of self doubt, depression and fear?
It’s a constant balancing act and you have to pay attention. It’s easy to get caught up in yourself and not see the things around you that are more important.
Sometimes I get sad or frustrated or unfulfilled. As much as I want to blame other people for this, I know it’s really me.
Julius Caesar wrote to his son who was a commander in the middle of a horrific battle and was losing many men – “If you find yourself in a situation that is unthinkable, change the way you think about it.”
The problem isn’t the circumstance, the problem is you – it’s the way you think about your circumstance and what you do to try and change it.
Here is how I try to think about my life in order to bring the most joy, peace and love… sometimes it works.
Before I continue, I should say that I know Christmas is a religious and spiritual holiday. I also know that we are a diverse world and that each of us have our own way of celebrating these “Holi”-days. I also think that to focus on one way, in a group like mine (a crazy and diverse group of real estate investors), is to create division – and so, when I talk about peace, love and joy, I will let you bring your own definition to it… as I will mine.
So here are my practical thoughts on finding joy…
1. I pay attention to when I am the most happy and I try to understand what I am doing or thinking in that moment that makes me happy.
2. I know that I’m happy eating chocolate, but if I eat too much chocolate, it makes me miserable. So, it’s not the chocolate, right?
3. I know that I’m happy when I see a beautiful movie or painting. I’m happy when I watch my daughter dance. I’m happy when I hear music that makes me see and feel the world more fully. But when I get enough, those things no longer make me happy or bring me joy. So it’s not art, right?
4. I know I’m happy when I’m developing something new in my business. It’s enormously fulfilling to build something that works – something that may actually last – something that has a positive impact on the people around me. But there are times I’m fed up with my work. So it’s not about my business, right?
5. I’m happy when I teach. I get a lot of satisfaction teaching what I know about real estate investing. I love to get emails and hear my students tell me they just made X thousands of dollars on their first deal – or X million on their thousandth deal. Something I did or said had a big impact on them. But I get tired of teaching sometimes and need to take a breath. So it’s not just about teaching, right?
6. I’m a filmmaker – I just finished a documentary with my sister. It was enormous fun to create and fun to work with her again – she’s a joy. But sometimes the work just wears me out and I need to stop for a while. So, it’s not about filmmaking or storytelling, right?
What is the common thread in all these things that bring me joy?
Computer gamers have a name for it – they call it the Epic Moment. This is the moment that you work hours, days, weeks, years for. This is the moment or moments that everything comes together.
This is the moment of epic engagement – where everything you are and everything you’ve learned coalesce into that epic experience.
To get there, it takes focus, time, dedication and a willingness to fail – over and over and over again. And then come back again and try some more.
For a gamer, it’s about getting to the next level – getting over the hump – putting your focus on the task at hand.
Every one of the things I listed above – at it’s best – is an epic moment for me, but they are not epic by themselves, they are epic because they are part of the larger hero’s journey… an engaging journey.
When you watch a good movie – the hero goes through trials of fire and trials of the heart. The first hour and fifty minutes of a 2 hour “feel good” movie is about that awful, painful journey, but it’s a journey that he or she is fully committed to, fully engaged.
Screenwriters talk about how many “Oh shit!” moments you need in a story, where the hero goes deeper and deeper into risk, pain and fear in order to create a big enough climax to have a satisfying resolution.
Our life is like a screenplay.
Our life is like a gamers experience.
Our life must be that hero’s journey if we ever expect to have the joy and happiness that comes from the epic moment… even if that epic moment is simply to savor a glass of wine with the one you love.
I’m NOT saying that we have to be in constant pain, fear and loathing in order to have joy.
But I do believe we need to be on a journey – seeking out our purpose(s) to find those moments of joy – and it’s not always going to be easy – but it MUST be engaging. If it doesn’t engage us – it will crush us… ever had a job that you hated – how many times have I heard, “I just work this job for the insurance benefits” – it’s soul crushing – and no insurance will ever cover your soul – the deductible is too high.
I think we need to live with purpose. I think each of our purposes is different and that each of us have genius.
Yes, I mean it – we all have genius within us – at something. Finding that genius is the path to purpose and your path to joy.
Here is how I find genius in those I work with – first we look at the levels of competence…
Here is the Wikipedia explanation:
The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.
Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.
The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.
The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.
Some people say that once you become unconsciously competent, you become complacent – and I would agree, that is one outcome.
But I also believe that that once you get to that level, you can start playing Jazz.
Have you ever done anything so well that you felt like it wasn’t YOU any longer doing it? I believe that is a moment of genius.
I’ve been there before – I know musicians who have been there and dancers and gymnasts and football players. It all happens – you are doing it, but you aren’t thinking about it – it’s an out of body experience – or maybe a loss of body experience.
Sometimes when you are in this moment, you realize that you are no longer thinking about it – and that is when you screw it up.
But sometimes, you improve on what you are doing – you do it in a way that is better than you or, perhaps, anyone has ever done it before. For that moment, you are in it – the epic moment.
And it feels damn good. When it’s over, sometimes, you just laugh out loud. Laugh for joy. I saw my daughter do this at a recent dance performance – it was amazing… and the look on her face when she described it later – I will never forget.
Sometimes you cry. It’s overwhelming and powerful.
Sometimes it changes the way you think about the world and those in it – you are a different person when it’s over and there will be no going back. You may be the same, but something inside changes.
These are the epic moments of joy. If you aren’t experiencing them regularly, what do you need to do or think about differently?
I wish you all a wonderful holiday season. Joy to all.