The Joy of Living. And Where to Find It if You Lose It.
Looking for Joy…
Sometimes my first client conversations go deep into the problem, the challenge or the desire my client is bringing to our work together. And sometimes they go high and wide, discussions about the meaning of life that don’t seem to connect to the immediate challenge, and yet explain everything.
My conversation yesterday was the latter. A highly successful professional, a famous name in his field, who felt like he’d lost his way, like his success had peaked and the only track was down. He wanted to recapture some meaning to his life and work, to feel fulfilled, to feel excited about what he was doing. He didn’t use the words joie de vivre, but I often think of them—the joy of living, the love for life itself with nothing needing to be done or achieved, the feeling of being alive I sometimes call it.
Even when a client comes with a very specific problem, there’s always a place we arrive at which looks like some version of,
I want to feel like I’m doing a good job, to feel inspired, with a sense of purpose, and that I’m supporting the people around me.
We All Get Lost From Time to Time…
When we lose this sense of being alive it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of looking back to where we last felt it and trying to recreate those circumstances or our way of being, they things we surrounded ourselves with and the beliefs we held that seemed to serve us. Like the proverbial drunk who is looking for his keys under the streetlight, not because that’s where he lost them but because that’s where the light is better. We can see in our clarity that he has no chance of finding them there because that’s not where they keys are to be found!
Looking in the Wrong Place…
This is what we do. We want to re-capture a past success, or we think our future purpose is to be found in achievement, or a relationship, or a way of life, nice stuff perhaps. What we lose sight of is that the joie de vivre we seek comes from us, it bubbles over and infuses everything we do. It rises up when we engage—whether it’s a Hollywood movie production or washing the dishes, we bring it to our activities, our activities do not bring it to us.
Remembering what You Already Know…
Seeing this is the most powerful moment in a coaching, or any, conversation. It sparks the joie de vivre in the moment, it brings laughter and joy, it brings a feeling of lightness and a sense of unlimited potential. From this place, it feels like nothing is a problem. Isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day?
This isn’t something you don’t already know, it isn’t something my client doesn’t know, but, like him, we sometimes forget that’s how life works. And remembering can be that turning point we’re looking for.