February 14, 2023

How to Find Joy in Life (Even When We Don’t Have Everything We Want).


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We all have things that we want, that we long for, that we’d like to have or achieve.

It could be a place we want to travel, or work we want to do, or a kind of life we want to live.

We may have things we want to learn or activities we want to excel at.

We have experiences we’d like to experience.

But it doesn’t matter if we go to the place we want to go, or if we achieve our dreams, or if we finally get whatever it is that we’ve always wanted, there will still be a part of us that wants, that craves, that longs for—our mind will always want and crave and long for.

Even if we get all of the things we think we want, we’ll find ourselves in that future place in the feeling of wanting or longing for something else—something more.

This is natural, but when we understand it—this tendency of the mind—we’ll also be able to understand the importance of cultivating appreciation and joy and presence in the moments we’re actually living, right now. It’s why we need to be able to find joy and contentment and peace in our lives right now.

We have to find a way to appreciate what we have right now, where we are right now.

It can be in the simple things—a good night’s sleep, the beauty of nature, the wonderful feeling of working on something that we love, right now, in this moment. It can be a hug or a bit of rest or a delicious cup of coffee or tea. It can be from learning one new little thing or taking one small action toward our dreams.

It’s important to find a way to appreciate the present, the moments we’re actually living while we’re living them, because we’ll only ever experience anything in the present moment, and once this present moment or experience passes, it’s gone. It left us. We’ll only have the faint, fuzzy memory of it; it won’t be as real or full or vivacious as the moment when we were actually living it.

It’s also too easy for us to focus so much on what we don’t have or on the ways we’re not “measuring up” (to how we think we should be). We can see all the places that are wounded or that need to heal, the situations that still trigger us, the less-good-feeing ways that we still react. We can get too focused on what we feel “needs to change.” And in this space, it’s so easy to long for the day when we’re “finally healed” or have moved well beyond whatever uncomfortable feelings or reactions move through us.

This longing is also natural, but change takes time, and if we don’t appreciate each moment along our journey, we’ll find ourselves feeling unnecessarily frustrated or restless or discontent.

Even if we aren’t perfectly “healed” or totally aligned all the time, we can find gratitude and satisfaction and appreciation for each step toward where we want to go. Each moment of expanded awareness, each new way we see and understand ourselves, each slight shift in the way we react or move or think, each time we notice ourselves feeling or thinking or behaving even the slightest bit differently from what we once did, each slight or massive shift in perspective, each new beautiful way we show up for ourselves.

What if we focused on doing the best we could in each moment of each day? What if we focused on aligning our heart, sinking into ourselves, and moving with what feels right to us, today, in this moment? What if we focused on doing the things we love to do, in the ways that we can right now, while fully embracing where we’re at and accepting and making peace with what is, with the way that our life is right now?

If we spend our lives always waiting for that one day when everything is perfect, the day we understand everything, the day when we have everything the way we want in the way that we want it, we’ll miss out on all the beautiful, magical things and opportunities we have right now, in this moment, in the moments we’re living while we’re actually living them.

Sometimes life feels painful and it can be harder to feel appreciation in this space, but it is possible—if only we keep our minds and our hearts open to it. In tougher moments, we could be thankful for just a moment to sit with ourselves and feel whatever we’re feeling fully, without trying to force ourselves to get out of it. We could also seek to understand the opportunity lingering here—how this could be a moment, if nothing else, for us to be present and connected to ourselves, to take care of ourselves and love ourselves in the ways that we need.

It’s important that we understand the tendencies of our mind, how our mind works, so that we can observe it and learn from it and find joy and peace in the moments we’re living while we’re living them, right now.

We all have “lessons,” areas where we struggle, moments that feel hard and tough and painful. We all have things that we long for and want and crave, things we want to do or have or achieve.

But in the midst of all of this, we’re also here, right now, surrounded by so much beauty and goodness and light and magic and opportunity.

We just have to be willing to open our hearts and minds to see.


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