What Building a “Perspective Timeline” Taught Me About Joy.

I have romanticized life for a long time now. Looking for some grand adventure or love that would give my life the meaning I’ve thought it was supposed to have. Now being alone and without the love of someone close or living in the midst of some great chapter, I find myself contemplating when living life became a drug to me, and stopped being a sustainable happiness.

I’ve hurt and been hurt in love. The healing process for both have lasted longer than I would have liked (but you cannot put a time requirement on healing). The pursuit of a life so glamorous has led me to being alone again, but this time not looking for adventure, looking for purpose. Looking for joy. A joy that I’ve never had simply on my own. Its always been dependent on someone else or somewhere else.

That’s my journey right now.

I’ve discovered that joy can be found in the small things. In the everyday. In what is present with you. In what you have. Not what you have not.

Joy is not something you find. It is something you realize.

I know this is a commom tale. Many of us growing up looking for that missing piece that will make us happy. More so we are conditioned to think that some outside element will bring us the joy we think we are supposed to have. That calling. Career. Partner. Etc.

But, was anything ever missing?

I have been apart of some amazing experiences so far in my life. I’ve traveled, I’ve worked in the wilderness, I’ve loved and been loved. I have friendships that have transcended distance and time spent together in person. When I begin to make the list of opportunities and people that are apart of my life, it doesn’t take me long to say “Wow, I am really thankful for this.” This is hard to recollect when you are alone, however. You see others sharing life with someone else. You see those you once shared life with, sharing it with someone else now, and you start to compare yourself to that —

But comparison is the thief of Joy.

When this becomes our thought process, we stop seeing what we have and were we are, and start wishing we were someone, or somewhere else. When this happens, we remove ourselves from the oppurtunity to bring joy or have joy brought to us. Then, we get stuck, and all our vices whisper from stage left “That’s our queue.”

I’ve developed a simple practice that has helped me remember to stay present and to see the potential my life still has. I call it the “Perspective Timeline.”

(Forgive the poor illustration skills) but, the concept is simple ( and I am sure it’s not an orginal one!)

Draw out a timeline. Each mark at the beginning represents five years for me ( turning 32 in a few weeks. Let’s goooooo!) Each line from those segements are drawn out so you can write down the moments in your life that defined these years. Really think about these segments. It could be easy to dismiss the first 5–10 years. Even if you don’t remember moments, think of how you could have been influenced by those people or moments around you. How they may have shaped your development into the next five years.

The greatest take away for me here is the amount of time that still exists in the timeline. If I am fortunate, I have so much space that is unwritten. That tabula rasa vibe. Where there has been no hurt. No lost relationships, no mistakes made I wish I hadn’t, no comparisons to be made. You can’t compare yourself to the future, and that is a freeing thought.

I encourage you to take some time to write out this timeline for yourself. Regardless of your age, you’ll see that there is time unwritten for yourself. Even if its one day, or 30 years. The potential is there for you, and a future un-written means an opportunity for you to grow and lean into the life you desire.

Be present today and may you discover and realize the joy that is with you and around you right now.

“Help thy brothers boat across and lo! Thine own has reached the shore.”

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