What brings you joy? Someone asked me that question about seven years ago and I actually had trouble answering it. And it surprised me that I couldn’t answer it (not to mention it kind of freaked me out). Not that I wasn’t happy, I was. I had a wonderful family and a good job, and things seemed fine. So why couldn’t I answer that question?
One thing that helped me figure out how to articulate my answer was to start a daily gratitude journal. Each night before bed, I wrote down three things I was grateful for that day. At first I thought they had to be big, major events or they weren’t worth writing down. So if I had a hard time thinking of something, I sat there until I wrote something, even if it seemed silly…. like, “I’m grateful I had time to shave my legs in the shower this morning.” It’s easy enough to get caught up in what doesn’t work out in our days, and it sometimes takes a little extra effort to focus on all the things that are good, and a regular practice of that can change your perspective.
I recently read a book called Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. He is the CEO and one of the founders of Zappos, the online shoe company that grew from zero to over a billion dollars in sales in just 8 years. It’s an amazing story and if you aren’t familiar with it, I highly recommend the book. It’s not only a lesson in leadership and the importance of culture in an organization, but a fantastic story about a man who has unrelenting passion for and commitment to what he’s doing. The title of the book gets to Zappos’ core values and mission statement and what they are in business for…. delivering happiness to the world. Since the book, he has started a worldwide movement around this, and spreading the idea of happiness. There are elements of gratitude and humility in his message (see Zappos’ ten core values) and while they seem like simple ideas, they can be pretty powerful.
How you would answer that question if someone asked you “What brings you joy?”? I’m pretty sure the answer to the question itself is much less important than whether or not you are able to answer it.