NOTE: This article was written by Holly Michel, wife of General John E. Michel, the co-founder and CEO of GeneralLeadership.com
Joy: We all want it, but few of us have it. Why? Because every day, people and circumstances overwhelm our lives and steal our joy. Things like fear, anxiety, jealousy, death, loneliness, and illness sneak in. These difficulties consume our thoughts, drain our energy and leave us feeling incapable of experiencing happiness and satisfaction. But despite these setbacks, I believe joy is still possible and readily available. Actually, I am convinced joy is achievable by each and every one of us, regardless of the current frustration or desperation we may currently find ourselves in.
I am so convinced of the validity of this simple truth because I believe the human spirit was created to frequently experience joy—defined simply as a feeling of contentment, pleasure and genuine happiness. Joy is the built-in capacity to navigate difficulty that enables us to see past hardship and lingering hurt so we can lead better, stronger and more purposeful lives. I believe that our Creator equips with the ablity to experience Joy to the highest degree, thus enabling us to wake up every morning and look past the negativity and pain of yesterday, liberating us to experience the freedom that comes from embracing life to its fullest, positive potential today—personally and professionally.
Sadly, when we look at many workplaces today, joy seems woefully absent. With employee engagement and satisfaction levels at historic lows, the absence of joy is leaving a devastating void in our lives. This is particularly tragic as work is where many of us spend the vast majority of our time.
All too often, organizations view joy as merely a nice ideal. As such, many leaders find joy in opposition to productivity. I care to differ. In fact it’s been proven that Joy actually increases people’s satisfaction in the work place and markedly improves a company’s level of productivity in the marketplace. Basically put, happier people work harder.
It’s time leaders made it a priority to help turn this distressing trend around.
How you might ask? By letting joy invade your heart (and your workplace). This sets the conditions to make every interaction richer, every dark day lighter, and every experience brighter. Joy is the vital force that enables us to move beyond hardship and hurt to gratefulness and love. I am convinced joy is the catalyst for good people to do great work.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of joy is that you can be intentional with this emotion. It’s simply a choice away–a mindset we can adopt anywhere and everywhere we serve. The truth of the matter is, God designed and called us to experience joy so we can flourish and thrive. All of which supports my belief that every organization needs its own Chief Joy Officer.
I recently had the privilege of becoming the Chief Joy Officer for The Covering House, a place of refuge and restoration for under aged girls who have experienced domestic sexual trafficking or exploitation (http://www.thecoveringhouse.org/). It is a safe, special place that seeks to provide healing to the young women that helps him restore a shattered sense of self-worth. In my role, I have the opportunity to augment the amazing work being accomplished every day at Covering House by creating periodic experiences designed to help these girls rediscover their confidence and rekindle their spirit of joyfulness. In other words, my role is to intentionally architect ways to transform ordinary events, such as a bowling party, shopping trip, or game night, into a creative means of communicating valuable life lessons—lessons that will help those I serve move beyond the pain of the past and embrace a more hopeful outlook about their potential for the future.
It is important to note that in my role at The Covering House, I routinely use different mediums to rekindle joy. Be it teaching drawing, creating mosaic pots for plants, tree decorating, taking trips to ice cream palors or simply enjoying quiet moments at a tea party in the house, I help others experience joy by tapping into the deep well of beauty we call our imagination. And for good reason. After all, I have repeatedly witnessed firsthand how joy often springs from the process of helping others develop a skill that actively magnifies their natural strengths and gifts.
For generations, scientists, scholars and psychologist have reminded us how our beliefs and actions work together to influence the world in which we wish we live. What we do and who we ultimately become is heavily influenced by how we choose to think about ourselves and how effective we are in working with others. Expereinceing Joy is what encourages us to be and do our best. It is what equips us with the patience to give each other the space to grow while providing us the courage to trust in the value of the journey.
My goal as Chief Joy Officer is simple: help bring greater hope, light, and a renewed sense of optimism and appreciation for the gift that is life. My desire is to help spur a greater feeling of contentment, pleasure and genuine happiness in those I have the privilege to serve. My wish is merely to do my small part to stir and awaken the innate beauty in every person I encounter.
Where can you infuse some joy in your world, today?
Article Written by Holly Michel, Chief Joy Officer at the General Leadership Foundation