Are you pursuing joy or sadness?

ouchWhat? Don’t be ridiculous. You think that’s a silly question up there? Who in their right mind would pursue sadness?

Well, me for one. And it turns out that I’m not alone in my pursuit. Lots of people’s thoughts and actions are actually more aligned with sadness than joy.

Now for sure, not one single soul I know would claim being in hot pursuit of sadness. But sadly, (couldn’t resist) that doesn’t matter. That’s because if we’re alive, we’re always headed towards something. Keep doing what you are doing and you are going to end up somewhere. Keep not doing what you are not doing and you are going to end up somewhere. Keep thinking the thoughts your thinking (and they’ll lead you to take or not take action) and you are going to end up somewhere. Makes sense right?

Here, let me offer a couple of examples. Names are made up, just so you know!

Paula is a perfectionist. She is a loving, caring, hard-working woman and she hates it when e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g she does doesn’t turn out absolutely flawless. (I mean she hates it!) And since it basically never does, she chooses to focus on and beat herself up for, as she sees it, her flaw(s) and mistake(s) and shortcoming(s) and doesn’t begin see the incredible work and joy that she’s added to the world. She only sees, again, as she calls it, the places where she “should have known better AND done better.” She doesn’t make excuses but you should hear the apologies she makes for herself! She truly apologizes for not knowing everything. She has herself convinced that to be good enough at what she does, she actually has to know everything. Here’s the thing, this example has Paula in hot pursuit of SADNESS! As long as she holds herself to that unattainable standard of perfect and she beats herself up for her so-called mistakes, there is no room for the deep and peaceful joy that she is claiming to want so desperately. All she’s making room for is feeling “less than” and from there, joy is quite illusive. Do you see that? So, Paula will need to look carefully at where her current thoughts and actions are most likely to lead her…towards more sadness or more joy?

Richard is a truly terrific man who loves his wife and their kids with all of his heart and would do anything for them. He has a great career, loves to cook, enjoys long walks with the family and even folds and puts away the laundry on laundry day! But try as he might, he cannot understand why his wife’s mom doesn’t just love him to death. Momma-in-law clearly ignores him when the family gets together and doesn’t include him in any of the conversations or activities. He feels invisible when he’s around her. So, he often decides to stay home from the family gatherings so that he doesn’t have to endure being treated as persona non grata. Of course this leads to him missing out on time with his own family which is his first priority! When he does go to the gatherings, he “protects” himself by avoiding any contact with the mother-in-law altogether. He stays on the other side of the room and, when possible, he stays in an entirely different room. He totally closes himself off from her but blames her for the distance between them. Here’s the thing, this example has Richard in hot pursuit of SADNESS! As long as he allows what someone else (ANYBODY else, and yes even an in-law) is doing to be the reason for what he does or does not do in his own life, the deep and peaceful joy he is claiming to want so desperately is going to remain illusive. Do you see that? So, Richard will need to look more carefully at where his current thought and actions are most likely to lead him…toward more sadness or more joy?

We’re pursuing something all of the time. We’re wise to make sure it’s what we really want or we can end up on a lightening-fast journey right towards its opposite.

If you keep thinking and doing what you are thinking and doing, what are you pursuing? Is it what you really want? Good to know.

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