On Earning Joy

Maybe this is just me, but sometimes I feel as if society is trying to sell me the idea that the presence of joy in my life is something that I have to earn.

Nearly every person at the centre of a major success story in the media appears to have faced significant difficulty in their lifetime, often leading right up to the moment that they “broke through” and achieved their dreams. Time and time again, we hear tales of ordinary people achieving extraordinary athletic or artistic feats directly after being pushed to their near absolute mental and/or physical limits. We hear of impossibly hard working athletes and starving artists, we witness their successes, and we aspire to be like them some day.

Maybe it was exposure to these stories through the media, or maybe I did this independently, but somewhere along the line I began to correlate suffering with eventual success. I began to accept struggle and suffering as facts of life; necessities along the path to comfort and joy. It is my belief that this acceptance is absolutely unacceptable, that hard work is not equivalent to pain, and that joy within suffering is entirely possible.

Joy and comfort are not items to be earned or destinations to be reached, but rather repetitive experiences to be had. They can precede suffering, be preceded by suffering, or, in my opinion most commonly, accompany it. It is entirely possible to simultaneously achieve one’s goals and to enjoy the journey. Realistically, the pursuit of a goal likely makes up the bulk of the time dedicated to it, and if we aren’t finding any joy within that process, is the goal ultimately a truly fulfilling one?

I encourage you to find the joy in daily pursuits, friends. Find joy in going to practice, in repetitive music theory, in math homework and in essays. And, if your pursuits truly no longer serve and fulfill you, replace them. Life is far too short to waste time making yourself miserable chasing goals that no longer suit you, you all are worth so much more than halfhearted effort.

Much love,

Sabina

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