The fifth key to living a joyful life is a strategy that allows you to build on all of the other keys.
The fifth key to living a joyful life is moving from joy to joy.
One of the myths that people tend to believe is that the only way they can improve their life is if they are feeling upset with themselves. People use a strategy where they notice they do not enjoy their situation and they do the actions needed to change their lives. The third thing they do is repeat this cycle over and over again. This cycle shows up in relationships, jobs, living situations, and other aspects of people’s lives.
The reason many people continue this cycle is out of spite or anger. When a person does something out of anger, they tend to take all of the problems with them into their next situation.
Imagine a person who is sick of living in Seattle and wants to move to Atlanta. They are entirely sick of Seattle and blame Seattle and its residents for their sad and depressed life. When they are packing their stuff, they take their bitterness, sadness, and thoughts of revenge, their anger andgrudges, and other negative feelings of Seattle with them. After a few months of enjoying their new digs, they unpack their negative feelings. Now the people of Atlanta are the jerks and they will have to move again.
If you are moving from joy to joy, if you do decide to leave Seattle, you will let your baggage go.
Shift your focus, shift your life
To move from joy to joy you must first shift your focus. In the middle of the United States there are huge stretches of road where there is little on the side of the road except telephone poles spaced about every half mile. Statistics show that there are a large number accidents into these telephone poles. The problem is people have a problem when they are driving and looking at the telephone pole and think, “I do not want to crash into the telephone pole.” As they are focusing on the telephone pole they are driving towards the telephone pole and they hit it.
This example appears in other areas of people’s lives. When you focus on how much you hate your job, your coworkers piss you off, your boss is a jerk, you are underpaid and under-appreciated, you put your focus on those negative aspects when you are looking for your new job. Even though you are telling yourself that you want something different, you are focused on what you do not want. You will then find a new job with similar situations and wonder how you did this.
Relationships are an amazing example of this phenomenon as well. Is there someone in your life who keeps dating the same wrong person in a different form? Have you done this?
The way to shift this and escape the cycle is to find the positive aspects of your current situation while focusing on what you want. Do this instead of focusing on what you do not want.
When you are finding the best in your situation, you are shifting your focus into the positive aspects of your life. When you move onto the new situation you leave your baggage behind. When you feel that first sting and realize that you want to leave, that is the time to sit down and write 20 things you like about your situation. If you are living the other keys, you can still be ecstatic about your current situation and realize that it is time to move on. You will be moving towards pleasure instead of moving away from pain. In other words, you would be moving from joy to joy.
When you focus on what you want you will gravitate towards it.. You will look for that great relationship instead of another version of what you just left. You will have your eyes on the road instead of on the telephone pole.
Learn from all situations
An important way to shift your focus is to change the way you look at situations that you find poor. People tend to look at bad situations as ones that stop them from doing things that they want to do in their lives. Some situations take a little more than shifting focus and learning from the situation. You know what they are. People have the ability to generalize situations and blow them out of proportion.
For example, dating is situation where people tend to over generalize and focus on what they do not like in their life. Going on date after date, feeling disappointed when each one doesn’t work out and thinking of dating as a waste of time will not get you your dream relationship. In fact, I have heard many times how when a person gives up on dating and just stops thinking about dating and relationships they end up finding one. This does not surprise me.When the person stops focusing on what they do not want and how they will never find someone they end up finding someone they desire.
Two sayings sum up my point from this section:
1.“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” When you look at aspects of your life that you do not want as learning experiences you no longer beat yourself up. Learning from the situation allows you to increase your knowledge and your chances for success.
2.“Learning what you do not want is just as important as learning what you do want.” When you learn what you do not want, it allows you to focus on what you do want. In fact, I have learned a lot from situations that I do not want. For example, I went on a date with a woman who didn’t like any type of fantasy. She couldn’t watch CSI because it was too unrealistic. I would have never thought to put this on my list of things I want in a woman before I had this date. I am grateful to her for showing me something I do not want and I am focusing on finding a woman who enjoys the fantasy genre.
When you live focused on what you want, you are focused on the solutions not the problems. When you focus on problems you will only find more problems. When you focus on a solution, you will find solutions. When you work with me, we will focus on your solutions and together we will create the life that you want.
Homework of the Week
Think of a problem that you have in your life. Write down what you have learned from this problem. Write down what desires have been spawned because of this problem and include aspects of the situation that you enjoy. Write down 10 different solutions to this problem, no matter how silly each solution is.