Finding and Creating Joy: What Does Joy Really Mean?

Exploring joy, what it really means
by
Daniel Weiss

Providing impressive customer support isn’t exactly simple during the best of times, but with the Covid19 pandemic throwing additional uncertainty into the mix, customer support agents are facing greater challenges than ever before.

Which is why the second edition of CX for the Soul — a virtual event series centered around supporting the CX community — focused on Joy. What is it? What is it not? How can you create it for yourself and others?

So we called in the experts, plus Aircall’s Customer Success Manager, Flavia Springer, to define and expand on this sometimes-elusive idea of Joy, especially as it relates to our working lives.

Main Takeaways

  1. Find joy within yourself. Don’t tie it to your career or life achievements. Identify your purpose, anchor yourself in it, and live your authentic self freely and without regret. 
  2. Recognize the difference between joy and happiness. Joy is pervasive and sustaining. Happiness is transient and fleeting.
  3. Be present in the journey. Take the time to empathize with others and form strong, genuine connections.
  4. Practice self-care. Give yourself “time-ins.” Surrender the things you can’t control and embrace your sense of spirituality. Allowing yourself to feel support from others builds resilience.
  5. Be wary of joy-blockers. Avoid constant exposure to the news and social media if it’s getting you down.

How Do You Define Joy?

In its broadest sense, Joy means having feelings of great pleasure and happiness. Our experts honed down this definition as it related to their personal experiences.

Experts on finding Joy

Paul Miller, an inspirational clown and the founder of Circus Mojo, kicked off the event with a fun, beginner’s juggling activity using plastic bags. However, this lesson in hand-eye coordination had more to do with Joy than with learning a skill.

When learning to juggle, you’re bound to “drop the ball” sometimes, but you can always pick it up and try again. As most of us juggle many balls at once in our lives, it’s essential to brush off the failures, laugh at them, and try again.

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As the participants tossed plastic bags from one hand to the other, Miller explained that people are generally laughing or crying. The role of the clown is to fail at things. Kids love slapstick because the clown plays the fool. He falls down, gets up, and does it again. The more times he does it, we laugh over and over—more robustly each time. Paul encourages us to think about Joy in terms of the things that make us laugh as adults.  

For Monte Williams, founder of ALEU, The Leadership Development Company, Joy is purpose. If you can identify your purpose and your reasoning for it; and you can anchor yourself in that; it opens you up to new opportunities. He encourages others to find purpose in everything they do and live it every day. Monte emphasizes that all leaders have a minimum requirement to lead themselves and the best way to do that is to embrace a personal relationship with themselves.

From the perspective of caring for people in the end-of-life stage, Suzanne O’Brien, a trained Death Doula, says people find the deepest Joy when life is the most chaotic, or perhaps, they find it for the first time. Suzanne is a hospice nurse and founder of The International Doulagivers Institute. She teaches others that they can tap into their Joy at any time during their lifetimes.

All agreed that the key to discovering and embracing true Joy is to find it within yourself.  

Understanding the Common Misperceptions Around Joy

A common misperception that people hold is they will experience true Joy when they’ve met their life or career goals. It’s easy to connect Joy with predetermined milestones like getting a certain degree or landing that big promotion. When people reach their goals, they usually find that the Joy they expected to have, simply isn’t there.

Williams points out that there is a difference between happiness and Joy and related it to the difference between customer service and customer experience. To Williams, and within both situations, he believed that “happiness is transactional; whereas, Joy is relational.”

Dr. Tracey Marks, a general and forensic psychiatrist, expanded on that definition, saying happiness is a superficial, transient emotion that you can have at any time. On the other hand, Joy is pervasive and sustaining.

What Prevents Joy?

O’Brien, in her experience working with dying patients, said that two “opposing energies” tend to emerge as the end of life nears—love and fear. Fear encompasses a long list of emotions like guilt, shame, anger, anxiety, depression, and more. Holding unrealistic expectations and having a sense of discontentedness will only leave you feeling empty and regretful in the end.

Williams adds that love motivates you to take action and fear paralyzes you. He identified four distinct Joy-blockers:

  1. 1. Limiting beliefs
  2. 2. Your interpretation of what you believe to be true
  3. 3. Assumptions from past experiences
  4. 4. Your inner critic

Miller added to this with how distractions can get in the way of our Joy. He related it to teaching someone how to spin plates on a stick. He said, “If a child breaks their dominant arm, they learn how to spin a plate with their other arm. Doctors and nurses can’t do it for them.” Essentially, we need to shift the power dynamic and that empowers and enables us.

How to Add Joy to Your Everyday Life

Our experts shared that adding Joy in everyday life isn’t about your destination, but your journey. O’Brien encourages her patients to treat every day as a gift and find Joy in being present and giving yourself “time-ins.”  Self-care is especially important today, where many people are working remotely and are struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

According to O’Brien, COVID has replaced death as people’s number-one fear. In her career as a hospice nurse, she witnessed many people that expressed regret over not living authentically. Those who found Joy in their final days shared that they lived a life without regret.

Taking a pragmatic approach, Williams likes to ask three important questions to help guide people toward their true purpose.

  • What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
  • What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
  • What would you do if you didn’t have to work to pay your bills?

The answers to these questions tend to be similar. Then he asks, “Why not incorporate some of these actions right now?” 

The Benefits of Helping Others

The experts agree that Joy is often found through offering empathy and helping others.

O’Brien describes her passion for helping others as having a heart-centered intuition. She felt a calling to work with people dealing with the end-of-life stage from the time she entered nursing school. Providing free community support and helping people deal with terminal illness and find connection gives her the most wealth she’s ever felt.

Marks on the other hand, was always drawn to people who were socially outcast. Ultimately, she found her career as a psychiatrist when she decided that she had a passion to help people heal from emotional pain rather than help heal their physical wounds. She benefits most from her followers on her YouTube channel, even more than in her practice, because they give her the gift of understanding.

How to Remain Joyful

Joy rises to the top when you take care of yourself and behave authentically, especially when facing adversity. For many of our panelists, anchoring your sense of self in some form of spirituality has been beneficial.

In a professional context, the key to good CX is to listen and be open to how you can turn the situation around. Additionally, when you surrender your burdens, it gives you the freedom to push past them. In other words, when you allow yourself to feel support from someone else, it helps you build resilience for the future.

How to Bring Joy to Others

In bringing the topic full circle, the experts had a few final thoughts and tips for people working in the CX field on how they can bring Joy to others despite the circumstances. The group overwhelmingly agreed that when you display vulnerability and understanding, it has a disarming effect on others.

Keep in mind that when you’re speaking with customers, you can’t know their whole story, your first inclination should be to understand and assist.

When you can take ownership of your failures, it puts you on a level playing field. Demonstrate that you’re advocating for them even when you don’t get it. When you get them to open up, it’s magical. As a CX professional, your challenge is to bring empathy and connection into every customer interaction so you can help out your customer in any way possible.

Watch the Full CX For the Soul: Joy event

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