Are you Content or Joyful?

By Lorna Dunning Vice President at American Express GBT and owner of LD Elite Development 

Content or Joyful? 

Not too long ago, I was lucky enough to experience a moment of pure joy that came after I went in pursuit of something I really wanted. It was something I had wanted for years, but I had supressed it, telling myself to be satisfied with what I had. This thing was not material or financial. 

When it happened, I literally couldn’t find a way to smile wide enough to express how I felt. I did a little skip and a fist pump in the street, which is quite radical for an introvert. Other than when my children were born, I had never felt that kind of feeling. And child birth is more like, thank ***** that’s over. 

Some big promotions came close, but not like this! 

When I tell you what it is you will be a bit perplexed why this was such a big deal, so I’m going to answer that first. 

There is something I have always wanted to do, but for all sorts of reasons I buried it, to the point where I almost believed I didn’t want it in the first place. 

I was scared, lacked confidence and was deeply insecure about what people would think. 

There was a chance I would be rejected and I couldn’t see a way to make a career from it, so figured I wouldn’t bother at all. 

I’ve learned, that if something is strong enough within you, it will never fully disappear. Some of us eventually hear the voice loud enough and act, but sadly, many of us don’t and this grinds down our happiness. It took me over 20 years, to finally listen to the voice in my head. It took a personal development programme and a great coach to help me get out of my own way and go for it! 

I wrote my first article! 

As I sent it, I had a Jerry McGuire moment where I wanted to take it back. I fully expected to be told it wasn’t quite good enough. When it was accepted, and published I did my first fist pump. When I heard that it had made one person laugh out loud I skipped, smiling so wide I felt I would burst. 

With a tiny bit of validation, the thoughts I’d always wanted to share poured from me onto the pages. I have no idea how many people read my articles or whether people really think they’re any good. But I get so much joy in the writing and sharing that I almost don’t care (almost!). 

Since then I have been reflecting… 

Why shouldn’t we expect to feel that kind of joy all the time? 

How many of us are happy and if we are, what do we mean by happiness? 

One of the earliest definitions of the word Happy is `to be greatly pleased and content,’ which was recorded in the 1520s. Today’s definition has been slightly downgraded to `feeling or showing pleasure and contentment.’ Notice the removal of the word greatly. The thesaurus search under happy gives us a range of words like content and glad through to joyful and ecstatic. There is a big different between being content and being joyful, don’t you think? 

When we think about our daily life we would rarely say the experience was joyful. Joy is reserved for things like births and marriages, and in my case, having one person enjoy what I wrote. I’m making this about the use of words, but my point is this, why can’t we feel amazing every day? Why is it reserved for one or two special momentous events in our life? 

Children are delighted by the smallest things. 

You could say there is a correlation between age and our levels of enthusiasm. Over time, we move from joy to happy (at best). When did you last feel delighted, exhilarated or elated and how often do you feel this way? Content is better than sad or depressed, but I believe we deserve to experience continuous levels of bliss. Why not? When did we universally accept less from this single chance we get in life? We have one life, but it has become our norm to expect `not too bad’ as opposed to `bloody amazing’. 

“Most people tiptoe through life hoping to make it safely to death” Earl Nightingale 

The image this quote creates in my mind makes me chuckle, but the meaning is quite sad. We don’t start out like this. Children dream big and want to be Popstars, footballers or bus drivers (in my case). Young adults are optimistic and enthusiastic for a life ahead, full of possibilities. 

At what age do we stop dreaming and why? 

What happens to our `happiness’ when we stop dreaming? 

Reach a certain age and you are expected to accept where you are and what you have. You stop going after what you really want and accept the cards life dealt you. What a phrase! Accepting the cards life dealt you implies you had zero choice and that your life was a result of circumstances beyond your control. 

“There are things that are stopping us. But the things that are stopping us are inside us. It’s not the money. It’s not the people. It’s not the situation. It’s our self” Bob Proctor (my mentor). 

I don’t profess to be the happiness guru but I would like to share three ideas with you to cultivate more pleasure in your day. Notice the use of the word cultivate. This doesn’t just happen to lucky people. It’s a choice. All three ideas relate to where you choose to spend your thought energy. 

  1. Ignore negativity. The thoughts you get emotionally involved with create your feelings. Negative thoughts = negative feelings. Turn away from harmful energy and avoid this type of conversation. Walk away or change the subject. Spend less time with negative people. 
  2. Feel grateful. Every morning and evening write down 10 things you are thankful for. To begin with this will feel like a mechanical exercise, but once you make it a habit and emotionally plug in to all the beautiful things in your life you will love how you feel each day. 

I include big and small things like the first sip of my Oat milk latte in the morning and the amazing people in my life who love and support me unconditionally. 

  1. Allow yourself to dream. We stop dreaming when we grow up. I used to hate entertaining wild ideas. If I couldn’t see a clear path forward I really believed dreaming was a waste of time. I was totally wrong! To dream we use our imagination. We can create anything we want in our imagination. 

When we use our imagination, we do two things; 

First – We can experience anything we want immediately, bring a future dream right into the present. And when we do that we experience the feelings of already having that which we dream about, since the subconscious mind (in charge of our feelings) cannot distinguish between what’s real and what’s imagined. 

Second – We allow ourselves to get emotionally connected to something we want and by law we will start to move towards it. Keep going with this and eventually the dream will move from imagination into reality. There is more to this than dreaming and it absolutely requires action, but what we think about all day long we move towards and attract back to us. 

Happiness is not always “reaching out” for something that you don’t have but rather only “reaching over” and re-arranging the pieces already there. 

*I relearned how to dream. But, before I could act on the dream I had to deal with the limiting beliefs I held about myself, confidence issues and get over the lies I told about the time I didn’t have. I did this with an amazing Development Programme that continues to transform my life in amazing ways. 

If you want to start living a superior quality of life, find your purpose and achieve the thing you really desire, I can help you! I’d be happy to talk about how we will achieve it together. Contact me at 

**NE Women’s Network are in my gratitude every day for helping me to achieve one of my dreams



SharpLifeAre you Content or Joyful?

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