Where does your joy come from: your ego or your heart?
Note: After a long week of traveling, this article will be shorter than usual. My thoughts are doing a slow army crawl from my mind to the page. Here's the best I could muster...
There's something you don't know about Stephen Colbert...
On top of being a comedic genius on his shows The Colbert Report and now The Late Show, he's also kind of a seeker.
In an interview with GQ, he spent a long day planning and dealing with so many aspects of his new show. After hours of work, he turned to his interviewer and said:
"What you just saw me do—the number of things you saw me talk to people about, the number of different things.… That's it. That's what liking process gets you to, the ability to process a great deal of information. And everybody in this building can do it. Everybody was jumping in. Everybody had ideas. Everybody was saying, ‘What is an unasked added value that I can give the show?’ And that is true joy. That's the joy machine.”
The joy machine. The joy machine?! Who doesn't want a joy machine?!
Joy is something I've been wondering about lately, like where it comes from, how I can create more of it in my life, or if it's something I should strive for constantly. Whenever I feel it, I've been asking myself, "Where is this coming from?" And I realized...
True joy can only be born of the heart, never the ego.
Here's an example from my latest project, the Process podcast:
- "I reached my goal of 1,000 listeners in less than a month!" → Ego.
- "How fulfilling that I touched someone's heart with my work." → Heart.
Or how about my experience as a new momma:
- "My son is talking before any of his little friends!" → Ego.
- "It's amazing to watch my son learn to communicate with us." → Heart.
Or in the case of Stephen Colbert's staff:
- "How can I do work that gets noticed?" → Ego.
- "What is an unasked added value that I can give the show?" → Heart.
At first the difference between these two feels small. Both are a kind of happiness, right? But it feels bigger and bigger the more time I spend feeling my way through it.
Ego creates short-lived happiness that is always countered with a sharp drop, like a rollercoaster that shoots up and down. The heart creates pure joy that has no "down."
I try my best to create more joy from my heart and less from my ego by serving others and instead of myself. At least that's my goal... :-)
PS. If you want to hear more about how to create joy through making your work sustainable, be sure to check out this week's podcast episode with Ryan Allis →