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One thing’s for sure: no one gets to the end of their life and says, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

So our third wished-for outcome in life is to have a life well lived, a life that has a balance of work and love, a balance of tears and laughter. It’s a life that lets me look back and say, “Maybe I did some dumb things, maybe there were things I wish had never happened. But let me tell you, in spite of all, mine has been a life well lived.”

And what’s the inner resource that helps us achieve that? It’s something we talk a lot about in these posts: joy. I believe that joy is just so basic to life. Not joy as a frill, but joy as the purpose of work, the purpose of relationships, the purpose of life. (Can you think of a better purpose?)

A few months ago we looked at Hafiz’s poem, Cast All Your Votes For Dancing, and I want to repeat a couple of lines:

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun from your prayers and work and music

And from your companion’s beautiful laughter…

Hafiz is suggesting that joy is as organic to your day’s experience as sweetness is to an orange. Joy is built-in to life. So how much joy can you squeeze from the day’s experiences? How much zest and humor and playfulness can you find in the day?

Joy is not beside the point; it is the point. Joy is not frivolous, it is immensely practical.

In his book, The Inner Life of Business, Timothy Gallwey writes about a sales manager in a big corporation who told his sales team: “This quarter, we’re not going to talk about sales quotas, sales goals, etc. Instead, whenever we have our meetings, we’re only going to discuss one thing: how to make our work more enjoyable.”

So that’s what they did. At the end of the quarter, this team beat all the other sales teams in the number of sales. And they did it making fewer sales calls and with less paperwork.

The poet Blake said: “Energy is eternal delight.” The student who enjoys studying, the teacher who enjoys teaching, the person who likes a challenge and embraces problems, the person who enjoys people—these people will have extra resources of energy.

The artist Marc Chagall said, “The love of life is necessary to do good work.” Likewise, joy helps us do everything we do…better. It even helps us deal with stress and problems and failures better. Joy doesn’t guarantee there’ll be no pain and tragedies, of course. But if we’ve lived for years with joy as our purpose, we’ll weather these better.

Joy is the resource we can tap into that helps us have a life well lived.