Choosing Joy

“Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile.” — Wilfred T. Grenfell

When I was in creativity coach training with Eric Maisel, we talked a lot about meaning-making. Meaning-making is a theme that runs through Maisel’s work — usually achieved by engaging earnestly, honestly, and deeply within the creative expression of an art or craft, creating meaning for your life instead of looking to life to make meaning for you.

Meaning-making is also described as “doing something worthwhile” in one’s life that results in a sense of accomplishment, well-being, and joy. For the artist, it may very well be acting on her creative impulses and expressing herself through paint or performance. For the non-artist, it is anything that meets the need to express personal potential in connection. Some find this through teaching, volunteering, playing sports, developing new skills, traveling, and engaging mind, body and spirit. It’s all time and energy well-invested and worthwhile.

I was inspired by Wilfred T. Grenfell's words above: “Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile.” I am ever amazed at the simplicity of such wisdom spoken in so few words, but with meaning so vast and life-changing for me if I just pay attention.

Many have awakened to the fleeting nature of external measures, attention, and claim. If we only believe that we are worthy and wonderful humans when others tell us so, then we lack within ourselves a deeper, rooted self-sustaining system for nourishing, embracing, and loving who we are on account of just being. Without this, we miss out on enjoying the act of creation, in bringing new things into the world for our own joy first, and living this miraculous gift of life for the moment-by-moment surprises.

We cannot look to or depend on others to make us whole. Our lives become rich with meaning and wholeness by our own actions and engagement in truly meaningful connections that tap deep into the most trusting and vulnerable parts of us that long for connection and expression. Our love, our creativity, our gifts and talents, these are all vehicles to get us there. And when we arrive, we know that warm feeling of belonging, fulfillment, well-being, and joy. It is the most comforting feeling of being home.

Chris Dunmire, July 11, 2017