I recently had a coaching call with a client who is on the verge of retirement and grappling with “What’s next?” When I asked him the very simple question of “What brings you joy?” the answer was a sad (and terrifying), “I have no idea.”

The inability to identify what sparks joy in our lives is a side effect of Performance Addiction™. We become so numb within the throes of addiction that we can’t remember what brings us joy. As we spin and spin our wheels and strive to achieve more and more, any sense of joy – or happiness – is void regardless of outcomes.

There is a distinction between happiness and joy. Happiness is a fleeting emotion. It can come and go like a leaf blowing in the wind. Joy is a constant that we are born with and can tap into any time IF we remember AND choose to do so.

Before your eyes completely roll into the back of your head, you must know that I fully acknowledge that suffering is real. Life can be hard … brutal at times. But within the most challenging of situations, there is always the opportunity to CHOOSE joy. Where you focus is what you get. So why not choose the route that is proven to make our lives better? To make those really tough times more bearable?

Research shows that joyful people have less chance of having a heart attack, healthier blood pressure, lower cholesterol, weight management, and decreased stress levels. Furthermore, happy people are more likely to exercise, eat healthy foods, sleep better and avoid smoking (HuffPost).

Like with any habit, choosing joy takes mindful practice. Try this:

  • Audit those around you. How can you purposefully surround yourself with more joyous people and limit time with the joy killers in your life?
  • Take notice of the small, daily things that bring you joy; the sun’s reflection off the ocean, a cool breeze dancing through your home, laughter of friends and family. Consistently observing the somewhat small, daily joys creates a plentiful life where joy flows.
  • Just as gratitude begets more to be grateful for, so too joy. When we choose joy, we find more to be joyful about. This begins to impact your transformation and of those around you.
  • Wake up to a song that exudes joy. Here’s my playlist:

After some additional coaching exercises, my client was able to identify what brings him joy. It was there all along, it had just been covered up with striving to meet the expectations of others. Joy is there for each and every one of us. It’s a primal human right. And it’s ours for the taking. But it doesn’t happen cosmically. It’s our job to create the conditions for a congruent life anchored in joy.