How to Find Inner Joy Through Instant Gratification (Yes, I'm Serious)
They say that life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. Our most consequential moments -- an unexpected hug from your teenager, a laugh with a good friend, a stolen moment with your spouse -- tend to happen when we least expect. In a world where we're so used to mapping out our daily grind, it's no wonder it's so easy to get confused about the path we're truly meant to be following.
Take the path to riches, for example. Many of us start out our money journey with some end point in mind. We want to earn enough to support a happy family, as capital to launch a new business, or to pursue a passion project. What often happens, though, is that along the way, we become charmed by our accumulating assets and forget about our original ambition.
We spend late nights at the office, put off the new business launch, or forget about our passions. For many people, what was supposed to be the path to freedom gets truncated into the end goal. This often results in less joy, less meaning, and less engagement in life.
Instead, we need to learn to live a life of instant gratification. I don't mean we should go out and buy things or spend today's money with no regard for what's ahead tomorrow. That would be foolhardy. Instead, we need to learn to focus on the daily experiences that truly matter -- the ones that bring inner joy.
Seeing the Forest through the Trees
Sometimes we can't see what's right in front of us, even if the path we're on no longer serves our ultimate goals. Take my late mother, for example. She suffered with heartbreaking depression for much of her life. In 2004 she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. For my mother, facing mortality was exactly what shook her out of her battle with depression and ultimately allowed her to find joy in her life.
The three years following her diagnosis were her most challenging. She went through multiple surgeries and several cycles of chemotherapy. She lost her hair, it grew back, she lost it again. Ultimately, she passed away at Christmas of 2007.
What was most interesting about that time, though, was that my mom's illness showed her exactly what she had to live for. Those three years after her diagnosis were some of the best years of her life. Her sadness and depression abated as her gratitude for what she had grew. She had a meaning and a purpose, and it drove her to want to stay alive each day.
Grace changes how we feel about everything and creates protection in our minds. It allows us the feel fully aligned with the present moment. When we learn to be grateful for what is, we also learn acceptance and allowance for events outside our control.
But Don't Wait for the Reaper
The magic in my mother's experience is that we don't have to wait for a life shattering event to initiate change within our own lives. No one leads a truly rich life when they're saving money just to save money. Humans need to live with a purpose, to have a goal in mind. For you it may be to spend more time with family. To launch a business. To finally write that book.
Whatever your ultimate goal, you can learn to use money not as an end, but as a means to your end. And by doing that you can discover the immense power behind joy and gratitude that will help you to lead the life you ultimately want to live.