• Future Legacies

Creating Joy in Life and Work


Wendy W. Smith

During the holidays, there are messages of joy all around. There are songs of joy, decorations declaring joy, and friends and family wishing one another joy. Yet, people rarely slow down long enough to consider what joy really is and where it comes from. Merriam-Webster defines joy as:

  1. The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires

  2. A state of happiness or felicity

  3. A source or cause of delight

By these definitions, joy can come from things like a new car in the driveway, a 60-inch television on the wall, or gifts under the tree. Joy doesn’t have to be all about the stuff, though. Joy can come from being with friends and family and from the way others make someone feel. Joy can also come through experience such as the birth of a child, achieving a professional goal, or traveling to a long-wished-for destination.


As a result, it is easy to view joy as something that happens TO someone as a result of some external factor. He will have joy when this happens, she will have joy when she gets that, etc. It is important to remember that joy can be something that happens WITHIN someone and that he or she can be the source or cause for joy and delight in their own lives and in the lives of others.


This time of year is filled with wonder and expectation. As you celebrate the holidays and prepare for a new year, take some time to ponder the sources of delight in your own life. Consider what joys you want to bring about in the new year. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • How do I define joy?

  • What brings me joy?

  • How do I recognize and experience joy in daily life?

  • What joy do I create for myself and others?

  • How can I be a source and cause for delight and joy in the new year?


There can be a stark difference in the amount of joy felt at home versus in the office. Many times, one’s level of joy tends to decline during the commute from home to office. Too few people consider the workplace to be a joyful environment. Most do not anticipate delight in the 9-to-5. They find it difficult to regularly encounter or recognize joy while on the job. Why is this the case for so many?


One of the reasons is distraction. Events that cause discomfort can distract people from recognizing and experiencing the joyful aspects of their work. Examples of discomfort can include:

  • A team member calls in sick or a customer appointment becomes a no-show.

  • The deal doesn’t get closed or the day’s schedule gets jumbled.

  • The team feels overworked or the leader feels overwhelmed.


If someone can’t experience joy in the midst of distractions caused by conflict, schedule changes, disappointment, etc. then they might never feel joy. Face it. Life is filled with distractions and discomfort.


Those who have true joy do so because they become intentional in cultivating the ability to recognize, experience, and create joy - in the midst of and in spite of the distractions and discomforts of daily life and work.

Joy isn’t just something that flows IN to someone’s life by happenstance. Yes, joy can be obtained from things or other people, yet that joy tends to be temporary and inconsistent in its presence and timing.


Joy that flows OUT of someone is limited in its measure and recurrence only by that person’s willingness to create and experience it.


In the coming days, take time to reflect and to make a plan on how you will be intentional in cultivating your own ability to see, feel, and create joy in your life and work. Here are some final questions to help you reflect on becoming a catalyst for joy at work in the coming year.

  • Am I a joy-giving, joy-creating Leader/Team Member?

  • Do I model a joyful mindset, even in the midst of discomfort and distractions?

  • How can I lead others on the team with joy?

  • How can I coach the team in such a way that they experience joy in their work?

  • How will I equip the team to create joy for each other and for the customer?

  • What can I do to create and bring joy to the team in the coming months and year?

  • What will I do today to begin?


Imagine how happy the New Year could be if every person on the team created and cultivated joy for themselves and for others.


Wishing you a very Happy Holiday and a joyful New Year!

Wendy