Finding Joy

Life is full of challenges and adversity. Obstacles and tragedy can seem overwhelmingly unfair. We lose loved ones; we deal with unexpectedness and become grim acquaintances with grief. Often this requires a self-explanation like “everything happens for a reason.” I have used this platitude myself recently as a way of explaining away the mysteries of life.

The impact of losing people close to you creates a deep sadness. The raw emotions of despair and compassion filter through acknowledgement of the pain. Introspection at times like this can leave you wondering about life’s purpose. During these moments, I have come to realize that life in and of itself has no inherent purpose. You have to find your own purpose. This acknowledgment empowers resilience. You realize that nothing lasts forever and that often the greatest moments come after the dark. Kahlil Gibran captures this in saying that “the deeper sorrow carves into our being the more joy we can contain.”

Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Option B, explores adversity and the concept of post-traumatic growth. Post-traumatic growth is a change of perspective in finding greater meaning in life and a stronger sense of purpose rooted in something of significance. After tragedy, some find this in work or family, some in religion, and others through athletic endeavours. Finding this purpose creates joy. Paying attention to moments of joy takes effort however, because we focus on the negatives more than the positives. This is our built-in negativity bias. Yet negativity bias is not real. Your thoughts are only what you decide to believe in and continually reinforce in your mind.

Last Friday we received news that Lainey Carr had lost her battle with cancer. Lainey was our first administration assistant at our Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation.

Lainey brought joy and positivity to everything that she did. Lainey didn’t dwell on the negative, even towards the end. Thinking of Lainey today I am imagining her saying something along the lines of “Today is a wonderful day – find joy in what you do and live life in the present.”

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