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  • Writer's pictureErin Engelke

Three secrets to finding true joy and contentment

Unhappiness is nothing short of a waste of time.

For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I really think Ralph was onto something here. See, life really is too short to waste one single second on being anything but happy. Joy-filled. Content.

Now, I’m not naive. Not every moment of life is great. When your kid talks back to you or you lose your job. When you get in an argument with your spouse or your best friend hurts your feelings. When you see someone else’s fantasy life on social media and compare it to your everyday, normal one. Or, I don’t know, your entire world gets flipped upside down because of a pandemic.

Indeed, happiness is difficult to find in those moments. But joy and fulfillment are still present in your life. And in mine.

The past few weeks of COVID-19 have taught me so much. They’ve taught me that the things about myself I once held dear aren’t near as important as I had imagined. That in the end, I don’t need to be more than I already am. That I was created with purpose and meaning.

And how I choose to spend my time (and with whom!) should be done with purpose and intentionality. And that joy has flowed through me all along.

Happiness and joy comes from deep within. It comes from a place of contentment with who we are, our passions and goals.

Do you truly know what yours are?

I know one of mine is to see other women believe in themselves and pursue with vigor their own journeys as leaders, mothers, wives and individuals which is why I created this blog in the first place.

So how do you get to a place of fulfillment and joy?

1. Quiet the inner critic.

No one is more critical of you than you. The sooner you can stop listening to your own negative self talk, the sooner you can be joy filled and, most importantly, feel confident enough in you to pour yourself into making other people’s lives better. Find a friend you can confide in and speak out loud those negative thoughts. Then put them to rest.

2. If your gut is telling you to do something, DO IT.

When you feel a tugging inside to pursue a goal or dream, that’s a sure sign that it could be just what will bring you joy.

Ask yourself the question, when I’m 80 years old, will I regret not going for it (whatever “it” is)? If the answer is yes, always go for it. The worst thing that could happen is it doesn’t work out. And so what? You move on. But you can rarely move on from regret. So DO IT.

I’ll never forget the moment I took a leap of faith and applied for a Vice President position at the young age of 25...while 6 months pregnant, I might add. At first, my inner critic told me all the reasons I shouldn’t.

“I’m not experienced enough.“

”They’ll never hire someone so young for such a high powered position.”

”I’ll fail.”

”I’m pregnant and will leave on maternity leave in three months and that’s too big of a risk for them to take.”

These thoughts swirled in my head for weeks. But the one voice that wouldn’t shut up was the one that said “you’ll regret it if you don’t at least try.” And so I did. You know what? Not a single one of those beliefs I told myself were even true because they did hire me. I blossomed. And I fell in love with a new industry that ultimately led me to become a CEO today.

3. Think less about yourself and more about others.

Serve others daily. When I was growing up and I had one of those moments of normal teen anguish worrying that someone didn’t like me or my life was terrible, my Mom would (in her typical Mom voice fashion) to “just get out there and do something for someone else”. I’ve never forgotten her priceless words of advice because there is so much truth in them.

Serving others lifts you out of a place of anger, hurt and despair and into a place of hope, energy and fulfillment.

The next time you see that woman on social media who appears to have it all together and you’re riddled with envy, reach out to her instead. Compliment her. Build her up. You likely have no idea what lies her own inner voice are saying to her.

You’re not alone in this journey of life, friend.

The moments of unhappiness you and I face, likely daily, are not new. But they can be used as opportunities to find true joy and allow you to grow into a woman of strength, confidence and character.

So let me ask you...which of the three steps above do you need to focus on this week?

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