What brings you joy?
It’s a simple question I’ve been asking myself lately, as I’ve been replanning and restrategizing about a lot of my life.
However, just because a question is simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Let me explain.
Caffeine brings my joy – or so I think. However, when I dig down below the surface, I find that it’s not so simple. Yes, sipping caffeine when I’m tired is a wonderful sensation. The feeling of life flowing back into a tiring body. It’s remarkable how good it feels. Caffeine is the gasoline of much of the world’s day-to-day life, and I use it as rocket fuel for my creativity in writing.
However, the sensation caffeine brings to me is only brought because I’m frequently tired.
This is where the questions start to come up. I’m frequently tired because I don’t sleep well (or enough). I don’t sleep well (or enough) because I don’t spend my time doing the things that will help me sleep better and I don’t manage my time well.
What does this mean? It means that rather than bringing me joy, caffeine (in its many forms) simply helps prevent me from feeling the consequences of my own actions. Even worse, I can’t honestly say that staying up late gives me much joy either. On occasion, I stay up late to watch a movie, finish a great book, or to spend time with friends and loved ones. However, far too often I stay up late because I waste time after returning home, and then have to stay up late to catch up with what needs to be done. It turns out, I’m not pursuing joy, but rather avoiding the pain and consequences of my action.
Enough of my failings with sleep and time management though, back to joy.
If caffeine doesn’t bring me joy, and staying up late doesn’t bring me joy, then what does?
This has led to some serious thinking on my part. Here’s a partial list (in no particular order):
- Reading a good book
- Actual conversations with people about world issues
- Playing fetch with my cat (yes, my cat will play fetch, and it still amuses me)
- Helping people
- Spending time with my wife
- Adventures (of various sorts)
- Feeling pleasure in the simple movement of my body (this has been more challenging lately unfortunately)
- Feeling healthy in general
- The occasional good movie
- Learning new things
- Chasing the feeling of amazement
This is far from a complete list, but when I compare this to a list showing how I spend my time in an average day, I find that the two lists don’t match nearly as well as I might like.
I have a feeling that I’ve only just begun the deep thoughts associated with this task, but this is definitely time well invested.
If you were to complete a task like this, how well do you think your two lists would match up?