Joy Not Happiness #Reflections


I have always prided myself for being reflective and introspective but my dearest friends @esthairu, posted something on Facebook today that I will share because it made me stop and think again for a long time.

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Something borrowed…..via Kijala Shako

“Some people appear to be happy, but they simply don’t give the matter much thought.

Others make plans: I’m going to have a husband, a home, two children, a house in the country.

As long as they’re busy doing that, they’re like bulls looking for the bullfighter:

They react instinctively, they blunder on, with no idea where the target is.

They get their car, sometimes they even get a Ferrari,

They think that’s the meaning of life, and they never question it.

Yet their eyes betray the sadness that even they don’t know they carry in their soul.

Are you happy?”
― Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

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The question I am writing about today is not…Are you happy? The questions is; Are you fulfilled with your life. The easiest thing to say is Yes…but is that the honest answer? Let’s be brutal and real with the questions we are asking today.

Let me put some context to this discussion, and share from my ongoing lessons:

In November 2011 under the unction of good friend I enrolled in a class at the Strathmore Business School in Nairobi. The class I signed up for was the most expensive class I had ever paid for to further myself up to then. However, once I was done I realised it was the best investment I had ever made. It no longer holds that record because the value I gained pushed me to go back and do another more valuable class.

Anyway, back to the story. The class was called WILLS – Women in Leadership & Learning Series. Now if you are like most of us who were in the room, we wanted to know how to deal with the people under us and make out statement in our areas of influence. Many of us assumed that was the content of the course and so were prepared to get tips on how to make people hear and listen to us. You can imagine our shock when we heard the content and were asked to answer just a few simple questions. The questions are:

  1. Why should anyone be led by you?
  2. Why do you do what you do?

They sound simple enough but just stop and think seriously about them. Let me add some dimensions to the two questions. What about you gives you the moral authority to be a leader? As you think about it, please remove all your academic qualifications and your roles at work. The real issues here revolve around what about you the person makes you a person of influence and impact? Why should someone listen to you or take instruction from you? Ok, if that is hard, think about the next one…Why do you do what you do. What is your driving force? What gives you fire in your bones? Let me put it differently for you…

  1. Why did you go to college or university and take the course you took?
  2. Why did you do pursue high education?
  3. Why did you get married?
  4. Why did you have children?
  5. Why did you take the job you took first?
  6. Why are you working where you are working now?
  7. Why did you start your business?
  8. Why did you sell your business?
  9. Why do you live where you live?
  10. Why do you believe what you believe?
  11. Why do you go to the church you go to?
  12. Why do you dress the way you do?
  13. Why did you choose the car you have or desire to have?

…the list of possible questions is endless of all the questions but with the list i figure you are beginning to get my drift. Spanner in the works…Do these things make you happy?

One thing I can guarantee you is that the things that make me happy are unlikely to be the things that will make you happy. Answering the above questions made me realise that up to then I had done things because it was expected of me. Think about it, it is hard to get far in life without education…however little. When you are done with that the next logical course of action is to get a job and move on with life. Then at a certain age comes marriage and children and family. hot on the heels of that or alongside that is the accumulation of wealth to leave an inheritance for the children and have impact in life. I am aware that many of us have found happiness in the process and if you have you can stop reading right here. 🙂

It was different for me however, as a result of these two questions, I begun an intense pursuit to find meaning and I finally realised that it was not Happiness I thought but JOY in my life. The move to the pursuit of joy happened when I finally realised that happiness was fleeting and hard to hold onto but Joy was richer and deeper and longer lasting. I do not hold the record for this discovery…there are others who have come to this realisation before me…the thing that caught me was that I had found a place of growth for me…real growth.

I am still on the journey to live in my place of joy. I have however nailed the most important source of JOY for me…my relationship with God. This is critical for me because of His unchanging nature and his deep, unshakable love for me that cannot be replaced by anyone or anything. That said, I daily seek to find the things that add value to my life and bring enjoyment and joy that I may be balanced and share the same with the world around me. My pivotal moment was the reality that I had sought satisfaction in things that will never stack up. There is then an ongoing process of unlearning the things that are of no value and learn the things that add great value to me and hence the world around me.

I just want to ask you one question…What is your greatest source of Joy that you harness so the rest of your life will be the greatest time of your life?

Shalom.

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