In the third part of Focus and energy series, I will write about how to gain energy if you have none. I write and talk a lot about enjoyment. Why is it important, why we should explore ourselves to see which are the things we enjoy in life, why we should do the work we enjoy and so on. And I’ve been criticized in the past many times because of that. Usually by people who confuse joy with pleasure. I don’t blame them because even in dictionaries these words are usually tangled up or have synonymous meanings.
Joy is for me something that is fundamentally in us. When we look at children we see that they are overflowing with joy if we give them a lot of space mentally as well as physically. We can learn a lot from them. A lot of very simple fundamental things that we have forgotten or have denied ourselves of. Like the joy of learning, the joy of being, the joy of observing, the joy of loving and so on. They are not yet corrupted with the thought that they have to think or act in a certain way to be accepted by their parents or caretakers if we don’t force our own ideas upon them. So it’s not that they have to seek joy. They already have it because they don’t have yet set up many layers of resistance that would prevent them to enjoy life.
Pleasure, on the other hand, is something we many times do because we have forgotten how to be joyful. What fundamentally brings joy into our lives rarely changes, but many different pleasures can change throughout our lives. When we are unhappy we seek pleasures to forget that we are unhappy. We seek it in games, food, sex, etc. In that way, we are really living a double life. We spent one part of life doing things that do not make us joyful and then to at least find something we think life is worth living we spent the other part of life in pleasure activities that really have no other meaning than to give us a quick fix of energy.
By doing that we are wasting both parts of our life in a matter of speaking. But when we do something that is naturally joyful to us we get a lot of energy from that activity. That activity does not drain our energy. It gives us energy. If we observe or listen to individuals that immensely enjoy their work we would see that they can work throughout the whole day and instead of feeling drained they feel elated at the end of the day. And they can go on like this day after day, month after month and year after year. How is that possible?
It’s possible because joy of the activity is what replenish their energy at the same time they are doing the activity. So if we would follow this line of thought we could divide all of our activities into three groups: the draining, the pleasure and the joyful activities. I won’t argue here which is which. Everybody has to decide that for him or herself. But if ⅔ of our day is spent by doing draining activities does it really come to us as a surprise that we are stressed and exhausted by the end of the day?
Of course I am not saying that every aspect of a certain activity will or must be joyful or that all pleasurable activities are bad and should be avoided or that we should seek exclusively joyful activities. All that I am saying is that overall sense of our lives and most of our days should be joyful. That also does not mean that there won’t be pain or suffering or that we should avoid them. But if we do the activity that in an overall sense brings joy and energy into our lives we will much easier tolerate pain through that activity than any other.
To find our joy and the energy that comes with it we have to start asking ourselves some questions. We have to think back and remember when was the last time we felt joy in our lives? Did we lose it because we changed the activities in life or because we changed the outlook on the activities? Did we repressed our joy so someone else would accept us and we adopted the activity that is joyful to him, her or them? Perhaps we have mistaken joy with pleasure? Or we think that it’s useless to seek joy because none can be found? Whatever the case may be the joy is waiting inside of us to be discovered or rediscovered. But’s it’s hard to do that if we spend all our lives on either draining or pleasure activities.