November 27, 2022

Small Business Advice

Finding Joy at Work, In Life

Jerry Osteryoung | 8/6/2007

Life is a place of service. Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.
—Leo Tolstoy

Joy in life and in business is so important. Without joy, what the heck is the purpose of life and work? However, finding it is not an easy process.

Try this experiment to see just how little joy we really have. Go to a mall and just watch the facial expressions of the people that are supposedly enjoying themselves. My experience has been that most have frowns on their faces as they just do not recognize the joy in their lives or their surroundings.

Last year I had the very tough assignment of giving a speech in Las Vegas. Supposedly, most folks go out to Las Vegas to have fun, but every night, as I walked through the slot machine area of the casino, I observed the facial expressions of the people that I passed. But for a winning combination, these players were not enjoying themselves at all. In fact, judging by their painful expressions, it looked more like they were having root canals.

Joy is not one of those things that comes naturally. I think most of us have grown up without much joy in our lives. It is frequently not rewarded enough when we are children. In my case, I grew up feeling that life was supposed to be tough. If you were joyful or happy, you were being frivolous and weak.

It has taken me the last 10 years of work to really understand what joy is. I now realize that it is a skill that must be practiced. More than just trying to bring new joy into our lives, we really must work on seeing the joy that is already there. Recognizing joy in our lives everyday is so important to every one of us, personally and professionally.

If you look at some of the best leaders, I think that you will find that they both enjoy what they do and manifest joy to the people around them. Their joy is contagious. Great leaders make others feel good, and people just want to be around them. People are drawn to happy people. If you had the choice to be around a joyful person or a miserable person, which would you prefer?

In learning to bring joy into your life, the first step is to look for those things that really make you feel good. When you find them, sit back and savor them rather than passing them over.

What seems to work best for me is to set a goal of finding three to five things each day that give me joy. The more I do this, the better I feel. Some of the things that bring me joy are when my dog learns the training behavior that I am after and when I can spend time with my wonderful grandson. Helping an entrepreneur is another one that brings me immense amounts of joy. Without exception, helping others is just a neat way to collect joy.

A very neat lady, Julia Chanteray, puts on a neat website, On this site, she talks about joy in business and also puts out a monthly newsletter that you can sign up to receive.

Now go out and make sure that you are bringing joy into your life as well as into the lives of your staff and your family. Life is supposed to be joyful.

You can do this!

Jerry Osteryoung is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University. He is also the Director of the Entrepreneurship Program at FSU and Executive Director of the Jim Moran Institute of Global Entrepreneurship. He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 850-644-3372.

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