My opinion on this topic may be unpopular – I will start by saying that.
As we swing into the New Year, we are all filled with a desire to change ourselves in some way. Many of us want to lose weight, save more money, or take a fabulous vacation. I, personally, have learned over the years that resolutions are often recipes for disappointment and instead work on goals that are more reasonable and involve finding ways to grow as a person.
But often, as I scroll through social media sites and marvel at selfies and the “me first” exclamations I read, I am beginning to see that as a society, we are embracing more of a shallow approach to “self betterment” and “living our best lives” than ever before.
I told you this might be unpopular, but hear me out.
I think it’s great if you have the confidence to share your beauty with the world. I think it’s great to set goals and achieve them, if they bring you happiness and fulfillment in some way. But sometimes, and maybe it’s just me, I read the “live your best life,””me first,” and “life by design” slogans as demands to put one’s entire focus on their own happiness, joy, and self-restoration instead of on finding purpose and being of service to our families, our friends, and our neighbors. We are missing an opportunity to find the profound joy that comes when we give and create instead of rest and receive.
The global community has been dealing with a barrage of heartache lately. We are wrestling with poverty, injustice, political corruption, disease, and discrimination. Yet the upper echelon of our society APPEARS to be placing more value on ways to work less, have more, and ultimately, do anything in our power to wake up each day with a big ‘ol smile on our face because our jobs and lives have us spinning on some magical carousel at Disney World.
That is NOT to say that the people living their dream lives are not serving others or creating value in society – but by the sheer number of “influencers” I see on Instagram whose sole purpose is, I don’t know, to get us to all buy certain brands? I feel like maybe we are sending the wrong message, especially to our kids. When we place more value on YouTube celebrities than we do on doctors who save lives and teachers who educate young minds, why would our children want to work hard for less applause?
Doing jobs and living lives that bring us fulfillment and joy is a really wonderful thing. I think most parents want that for their children. But I think as parents, and PEOPLE, we need to have a better understanding of what fulfillment and joy look like. These two sentiments, unlike happiness, don’t have to be fleeting. Happiness, in my opinion, is more of a surface level, in the moment feeling. It can come as quickly as it goes and often changes day to day, depending on the challenges that appear. But fulfillment and joy? They are deep… they transcend the minutiae of each day and instead, give us satisfaction in our lives as a whole. And many times, as my friend Tony would say, they come with the ability to share our gift (whatever that may be) with the world.
Let me give you a personal example – I love to write (obviously). It’s fun, it brings me happiness. And yes, in a dream world, I might one day get paid to do it. But if not, it doesn’t really matter to me because my calling in life is nursing. Anyone who is a nurse knows that days can be very challenging – there is never enough time and always someone who is demanding and impatient making your life ever more difficult. However, I wouldn’t trade it in for the world because every night when I lay my head down, I feel the exhaustion of a hard day’s work that has helped another person in some way. That to me is tremendously rewarding, and took me until age 29 to figure out.
So I guess what I’m getting at is, it is our job to understand the difference between making our lives easier and more “fun” and making our lives and ourselves “better.” When Logan grows up, I want him to find satisfaction and joy doing something productive in this world. I don’t care if that means he’s a teacher, a lawyer, a nurse, a cook, a writer or a painter. But when he looks at how he wants to live his life, I hope I can encourage him to find value in working hard, learning, and attempting to create something in his life that leaves the world better than he found it. Because maybe, just maybe, we need to be thinking about what we owe the world and not what the world owes us.
This year, I urge you to FIND YOUR JOY — it doesn’t have to be just in the work you do. Maybe it’s in how you grow spiritually. Maybe it’s in the deepening of relationships with those you love. Maybe it’s in digging deep to understand the gifts you have and start offering them with grace to the world around you. And you know what? If you take a break from all that to sip champagne and #liveyourbestlife at a ski lodge in Vermont? Do it and have a blast. And then, when you are reinvigorated, get back to being the best, most compassionate and grateful version of yourself this world has ever seen.
Happy New Year! XO!