Today is my 40th birthday. There is much to be said about the preceding years. The lessons learned. The moments of struggle, the moments of great happiness. The incredible people I’ve met along the way and the many I’ve lost far too soon.
I could write whole chapters on all this (and I am, elsewhere, stay tuned) but today it amounts to this: I am who I am because of the experiences of the last forty years.
On a day such as this it’s impossible to not only acknowledge all that has come before, but to think about what lies ahead. What might the next forty years of my life look like?
After careful thought, I’ve come to this: I want more joy in my life.
That is not to say I want to work less hours or less passionately. I am lucky to do work I truly believe in (finally, after so many years of soul-selling) and I can’t believe I get to wake up every morning and do that work. I don’t mean that I’ve somehow led a life without joy. I don’t mean that I want to dramatically alter the direction of my life (though more vacations and more writing should certainly figure in) or that I’m somehow off-track.
What I mean is: there are moments in each day where we have a choice. A choice to get amped up navigating the mundane struggle of daily life. To get crazy frustrated when people don’t believe in the same brand of excellence that you do. To lose your mind when LA traffic ensnares you. To get overwhelmed with the many small decisions that must be made. To get overwhelmed with the very big and very serious decisions that must be made (or that life has unceremoniously made for you.) To worry about the metrics of your business, of your finances, the well-being of your loved ones, the state of the nation, the state of the ozone layer. To get wrapped up in concerns about success and the likelihood of fulfilling all your dreams and what it will mean or not mean if you get there or you don’t. We can choose to let all of this make up our days. Or we can choose joy.
We can seek out joy in the midst of all this. In the midst of LA traffic. In the midst of crazy news about our government. In the midst of heroic and inspiring struggles by those close to us and those we admire and root for from afar. In the midst of crazy HOA meetings in which board members treat you like a fifth grader (truly dizzying, I have to say). In the midst of eight years of roof leaks that your developer won’t fix. In the midst of daily injustices that build up, that create smooth grooves on your soul from repeated wear over time. In the midst of terrible news from nearly every country, every time you see someone suffering, every time you pass a man on the street who needs your help, every time you see a smart young girl who isn’t afforded to same opportunities as her male counterpart. We can be weighed down by it all or we can choose to seek out the joy, though it may glimmer faintly in the distance more often than not.
A little over a year ago, I began hashtagging certain tweets with #pursuejoy as a way to commit myself to seeking out those moments in each day. Sometimes it’s easy. There are days where it all flows and you find much joy all around you. Other days, finding a sliver of joy to celebrate is like groping in the dark without adequate tools, without a sense of where the treasure is hiding. But I am world-weary and, you guessed it, I stopped finding the #pursuejoy moments in my days.
So here’s the deal: I pledge to find at least one #pursuejoy moment every day for the entire year that I am forty. I encourage you to do the same. We can worry about the next year, next year. For now, let’s find a way to do great work, to support the people we love, to help those in need, to do all we can to change the world around us…but to find joy while doing so. And if we can’t find the joy? Let’s create it.