Joy? Joy?… Oh, yeah, I remember that now.

Perhaps you can help me figure something out.

Why do you do what you do? Why are you pursuing a degree? Why did you get into the academic life? Why are you finishing your Ph.D.? Why are you applying for university or college positions? Why choose a tenure-track position? If you're an Associate, why go for Full Professor? Why teach? Why do research? Why publish? Why grade exams? Why be on multiple committees? Why mentor?

By the way, I'm not asking for deep psychological reasons behind your choice of profession or path. More simply, it's about "How did you get here?" What were the factors and considerations that keep you here?

For you non-academic readers, you know what I'm talking about. Extend these questions to your personal situation. For example: Why psychology? Why coaching? Why write posts to this blog? (Wait, not that question!)

Why? Why? And why?

So a snippet from yesterday will reveal what brought all this on:  Yesterday, I had a conversation with a fellow coach. She pointed out to me that some of my clients are trying to move through struggles and "issues." Other folks are already doing pretty darn good, but want to take themselves to the next level, to fine-tune their performance, to be at the cutting-edge, to find purpose and meaning.

Then, she helped me notice that one necessary ingredient in my work with both of these folks is that I help them reconnect to joy.

So what's this joy thing, anyway? Do you recognize it in yourself? Are you fluent with joyfulness?

You can tell when other people have it, right? You can see it in their faces. Some people are even downright bubbly! If you know me, you know that I'm not a bubbly kind of guy. I experience joy as a deep level of satisfaction and fulfillment. From the outside, I'm easier to get along with… and I'm "lighter" and I just smile more.

Your turn

So I ask you to pause, to look at your life a bit. Take a real look at some of those why-questions at the start of this post. Find one that reverberates within you. Maybe there's even one that raises a small knot in the pit of your stomach. That would be the one to look at, for sure.

After you've selected one, hold it in mind while asking the following questions:

  • What's driving me to do what I do?
  • Is it something I planned… or something I just fell into?
  • Was that a good thing? Is it still a good thing?
  • Where do I experience joy, satisfaction, fulfillment… or a deep sense of purpose?

I really want to just leave you hanging here with these questions just wandering around. Well… on the other hand, I do. This is a good place to hang out for a while.

After that, when you're pretty sure of what you want to build into your life, The next step is to build these activities into your days and weeks. Perhaps I can help you with that. Or someone else.

But you owe it to yourself — and to the rest of us — to take this on.

May the force joy be with you!

-Steve Reiter
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