Lesson 92: Have joy, joy, joy, joy down in your heart

Published 3:20 pm Thursday, September 23, 2010

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.

Kahlil Gibran

A friend of mine is the captain of his own charter sailboat in the Bahamas. Each week during charter season, which runs from March through August, Captain Bruce runs one-week charter voyages out of his base in Nassau. The groups that charter the Bahama Star, his fifty-three-foot sloop, run the gamut from church youth groups to corporate executives. The accommodations are less than luxurious (sort of like camping at sea), and the food, while tasty and plentiful, is by no means five-star cuisine.

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Bruce and his wife Sheila share a so-called double bunk which is about as wide as a twin bed. The bunk is located within five feet of the two heads marine toilets making for a less-than-fragrant resting place. Thats okay, because Bruce doesnt get much sleep anyway. In addition to running the boat, he cooks the meals, maintains the boat and its diesel engine, and charts the daily course all while closely monitoring the safety and enjoyment of his passengers.

Clearly, this is not the job for everyone. But Captain Bruce tackles it with a joy that is hard to resist. He obviously loves his life and enjoys every moment. He almost always has a smile on his face not just a friendly smile, but a huge grin that comes from deep down inside.

He makes his passengers feel like family, because thats how he truly feels about them. His favorite expression of delight or surprise is a loud and hearty AAARRRGGGGHHHHH! that sends sympathetic vibrations to the top of the mast. Twenty-five years at sea have shaped him into a rough-hewn character that would be out of place in the country club dining room, but everyone who knows him loves him. His enthusiasm is so genuine and infectious that you cant spend much time around him without catching it yourself.

The story of Captain Bruce begs the question: is he joyful because he loves his work, or does he love his work because hes joyful? I suspect the answer is a combination of the two. But his joy clearly comes from within it is a never-ending river that flows from a grateful heart and enriches everything it touches.

Joy allows us to see past the rough spots and appreciate the wonder of everything around us. It makes life a grand adventure. Tap into your own reservoir of joy, and see how grand life can be.

Excerpted from The Graduates Book of Practical Wisdom: 99 Lessons They Cant Teach in School by C. Andrew Millard, published by Morgan James Publishing, available in bookstores and online. &opy; 2008 by C. Andrew Millard; all rights reserved. For more information visit www.wisegraduate.com.