Posts tagged discover
Happiness vs. Joy: what's the difference?
 

There are some really good reasons why we didn’t call this project the Happiness Venture. To pinpoint a few:

  • We knew there would be a learning curve and that difficulty would likely ensue
  • We anticipated there would be days, weeks or even seasons when things just wouldn’t go our way
  • We would feel like nobody was listening (friends and family included) and question if anyone cared about our little adventure
  • Rejection and disappointment somehow would be part and parcel of the experience

We expected these moments might arrive (and they have) – and that happiness wouldn’t be riding shotgun (disappointment is indeed a lone but frequent invader).

There’s plenty of psychological research to explain the differences between joy and happiness, much of which focus on the external emotional influence on our happiness and the more internally grounded nature of where our joy comes from. We won’t rehash all that here, but instead provide an analogy that we feel sums up this whole happiness vs. joy thing – and why we choose to seek the latter.

 

If happiness is the wood veneer applied to the manufactured table  

Then joy is the solid wood table.

 

There’s a reason that we accept and, when necessary, painstakingly restore the hand-me-down bureau or the Amish-built table. There is a deep beauty that has endured through the generations, a solidness that has been tested and upheld over the years providing function. Something so well-worn becomes a story itself worth sharing, not to mention the stories that emanate from its history.

Likewise, there’s a reason we don’t seek to restore, pass down or hang on to the DIY particleboard piece either. The idea sounds silly for something fabricated to be functional yet fleeting, destined to be disposable yet affordable enough to replace on whim.

We all want happiness in our lives and we want it now. And, much like the analogy, we have a tendency to look for shortcuts to get it.

We put on the good face in hopes that our external veneer can somehow conjure up those desired feelings. Sometimes it works. We go looking for it in all the wrong places and manage to find moments of happiness now and then. But we also know it’s circumstantial. What ushered in happiness yesterday won’t necessarily yield it tomorrow.

Joy – and in particular, Joy Venture – is about recognizing that happiness is fleeting and how we need to find that thing, deep within us, that gives us joy. That something to buoy us, to lean into when "it" hits the fan (and it will). Something that gives us purpose to persevere during the less-than-happy times.

Do you have that thing? Do you want that thing in your life?

 

Take happiness as it comes. In fact, revel in it. And recognize it for how finite it is.

Then go and seek joy.

 

Discover that thing that gives you joy – a vocation or change of vocation, a hobby or side project, a ministry or volunteer purpose – and develop it. Pour yourself into it without reservation. Hone it. Make it yours. And make it last.

Through this lens, it’s hard to imagine chasing happiness when joy is there for the taking – for all of us.

 

Need some inspiration to start your Joy Venture? Check out our podcasts and other posts to get motivated. Get outside your comfort zone and see what resonates. And take comfort in the fact that you’re part of a community of dreamers and doers who are activity pursuing their joy.

   

 

 

 

 

 

Failure is trendy. Don't buy the hype.
 
Beckett's #epicfail                                                                                                                                                                                   Photo credit: deshi yin

Beckett's #epicfail                                                                                                                                                                                   Photo credit: deshi yin

There was a time when I embraced Beckett’s quote. The rejection slips I received during my college days – and long thereafter – were stark reminders of the difficult road ahead of me as a young writer, one that demanded I put in the hard work if I hoped to get better.

Yet a strange phenomenon has appeared across the books, blogs and posts we read in the last few years. Failure, something that nobody wanted to be associated with, recently has become a badge of honor of sorts. People are more comfortable wearing failure on their sleeve and talking about it as part of their incredible catapult to success.

This new romanticism around failure is cloaked in a faux sense of vulnerability. Talking about past failures is much different than staring adversity smack in the face, and few are the people who stand up and embrace or even entertain the idea of failure as it unfolds.

Failure has become a popular plot line for storytelling.

It also has become a disingenuous narrative.

It seems as though 'failure is the new success' has become an acceptable way in which to masquerade our self-righteous and narcissistic ways, and proclaim our greatness as pure grit...so long as a little light is cast upon the missteps. 

That's not to say failure isn't real. Things do fail. And people sometimes do fail us. However, failure is being thrown around in ways that seem all too trivial and misguided, giving any misstep #EpicFail clout and providing us with an out or permission to quit. Worse, it’s becoming part of a narrative that ends with a predictable conclusion of success. At Joy Venture, we're of the mind that we should abandon the failure narrative and instead write a more honest one.

For example, perhaps you've seen the inspirational quote, post or infographic with Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and how his secret recipe was rejected a whopping 1,009 times. We don't buy this as a failure narrative despite its current packaging. If anything it is a story of perseverance, of finding the right people who believed in his idea, and of relentless hard work. We should acknowledge the effort for what it is.

 

Failure is not part of the joy narrative

After a few years assisting startups in two different business incubators, I became wise to a disheartening trend. Months after mentoring passionate entrepreneurs, I learned many had abandoned their "big idea" and were off doing something completely different. There are a variety of reasons for abandoning an business venture , and Gallup confirms many of the trails of startups. Perhaps they weren’t making money, or securing venture capital, or scaling fast enough, or destined to be bought out. Perhaps it was the lure of being the boss (or running from other bosses). Or maybe they simply underestimated the difficulty, determination and patience needed to grow a business the old fashion way: year after year after long and toilsome year, without of the euphoria of instant success.

In contrast, there are joy ventures.   

Again and again through podcast interviews on Joy Venture, we’re finding that people don’t fail at what they truly love. That’s not to say they don’t experience setbacks or grow in new and surprising directions. Rather they gravitate toward and lean into those things they love and what they believe they were created to do, regardless of the challenges. They refuse to let obstacles become mile markers on some imminent road of failure. Instead, they persevere.

There’s a stark difference in pursuing an opportunity and pursuing your joy. When things get awkward and sideways, we tend to go looking for new opportunities. It’s the opposite with joy: here we don’t find ourselves cutting bait and running the other way.

While opportunities and ideas emerge within the context of pursuing your joy, they don't define your joy venture. 

So what are you pursuing: opportunities or joy? The end result or the act of doing something meaningful?

 

Persistence pays off

My early and ongoing lack of success as a writer didn’t plummet me into despair or encourage me to quit, it focused my resolve: Write more. Write better. Find my voice. Learn the rules. Break the rules. Discern who would be responsive to my quirky style of prose. Stay engaged and don’t give up.

By doing this, the literary and academic journals that I admired were starting to publish my work. It didn't happen in 12 weeks or even 12 months. Instead, it took 12 long years. To characterize those dozen years as failure is to discard everything learned and the discoveries that emerged during that time. It was and still is a joy venture. I just didn’t know to call it that at the time.

Romanticizing failed opportunities is easy – anyone can do it. Take a different path.

Joy, on the other hand, is about discovery and development. In essence, it’s always a work in progress. Pursue it and you’ll have a treasure trove of stories about the journey and the progress – the kind we all yearn for and desire to share with others.

Converting inspiration into action
INSPIRATION: a screen, an internet connection and some reference books. ACTION: requires none of the above. 

INSPIRATION: a screen, an internet connection and some reference books. ACTION: requires none of the above. 

Inspiration, it seems, is everywhere.

Inspiring videos and posts fill our social media feeds as do the inspirational quotes, which also anchor our email signatures (sometimes incorrectly, as you will see). It's all too easy to be inspired by and enamored with those who did the impossible, seem to have figured it out, or found their life's calling as we continue to toil away in our everyday, mundane lives.

But finding real inspiration – entering into that discover phase we talk about that sends us reeling and in pursuit of something we were made to do – is really not that difficult. It just requires being intentional and making room in our hyper-connected, over-scheduled and immediate-gratification world.

We’ll use a couple of inspirational quotes and stories to illustrate how you might go about turning inspiration into action. 

 

Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Mary Schirch, Chicago Tribune columnist (improperly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt)

 

This is about getting out of your comfort zone and actually “doing” something, not just thinking about it or passively absorbing the idea as something you'll consider. Notice, she calls us to “do.”

Jeremy, my Joy Venture co-founder, has recently stepped out of his comfort zone to take pictures of strangers. This requires some dialogue with a complete stranger on the street and getting their permission. Awkward? Sometimes. Intimidating? For sure.

 

But here’s the cool thing about what Jeremy is doing: he has a tiny Bluetooth printer on his hip so he can print a Polaroid-style picture for the person he just photographed. While he waits for it to print, stories and conversations happen. A connection is made. Seeds and new ideas get planted. It will be interesting to see what takes root and what this experience leads Jeremy to do next. That’s the power of discovery, but it requires us to be active.

 

“Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act. Action will delineate and define you.” 

Witold Gombrowicz, Polish novelist (improperly accredited to Thomas Jefferson)

 

For years we can ask all the right the questions and still fail to follow up with any meaningful action. Jeremy and I have a friend, Stacy, who has a background in tutoring/test preparation, a desire to help kids succeed, and a passion for bicycling. Yet her professional life was a patchwork of jobs and positions that left her unfulfilled. Long before Joy Venture was a thing, our friend took a keen interest in what we were doing in Cambodia, including our efforts to raise funds to provide bicycles to orphaned children so they could get to and from school safely.

Bikes and kids. That spoke to her. If the idea and inspiration that came over her was going to amount to anything, it would require her to "do" something.

So she got involved in EduGo, a nonprofit that provides bicycles to orphaned children, and led the organization's first-ever (and then second) Road to Success Ride. She began to discover -- or better yet, rekindle -- what she felt she was made to do. She took a chance on herself and her love for empowering young minds to help them see their potential by launching her own coaching and tutoring company -- appropriately named Next Gear.  And, for the second time in a calendar year, she'll find herself in a small Cambodian village, building relationships with orphaned kids who not only will receive new bicycles her organized rides have funded, but also be assured of a meaningful education with a future filled with hope.    

And here's Stacy's cool thing:  she's combining her passion for bicycles with her calling to serve young students, both of which are making an impact on kids on opposite ends of the world. It started with a whisper, then a nudge, followed by small step, and then...

We don't have to figure it all out in order to get started. 

(That's not a quote. It's just something we know from experience.) 

 

Now about those quotes and attributions

We have a tendency to believe that only great people say and do profound things. We have a tendency to want to look up in admiration to people we all know instead of looking at who is standing next to us and getting to know their story.

A little digging on those quotes unearthed a not-so-surprising truth: some rather ordinary, hard-working and largely unknown people are behind these words – words that are embedded in their original and inspired experiences. You can find the backstory to each inaccurate quote here and here and here.  

Social media affords people to write a history of their own liking. And when we read it, we tend to believe it. But if you want to discover what truly inspires you, that thing you were meant to do, then shut down the digital feeds. Go outside. Meet new people. Listen carefully. And do something. You just might be surprised where you’ll find yourself.     

Consider taking this last quote to heart, pin it on a wall, and remember that more often than not, extraordinary things are written and achieved by ordinary people. Just. Like. You. 

 

"For what it’s worth…it’s never too late, or in my case too early,

to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit.

Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same.

There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it.

I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you.

I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before.

I hope you meet people who have a different point of view.

I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not,

I hope you have the courage to start all over again."

Eric Roth, screenwriter (inaccurately attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald)