“How do you know if you are a good father?" My friend asked me as we sat on the park bench. Small children were playing on a playset and the soccer field before us. "You're a good father," I replied. "You say that," he persisted, "but that isn't an answer to the question. How do you know I'm a good father?" He was right. I hadn't answered the question. And it's an important question. I said to him, "I know you are a good father by the way your children play with other children. They don't just want to play, they want to play with others. If you brought them here alone, they'd play for 15, 20 minutes and then they'd be ready to go home. But we will sit here for the next 2 hours, and when we say to them, 'It's time to go home,' they'll beg us for a few more minutes. They delight in playing with others. And I see your kids, they don't just want to have fun themselves, it's important to them that everyone else is having fun. They delight, not only in their own happiness but in the happiness of others."
He didn't say anything. We just sat there quietly, watching our children play. And I started to think to myself, "I need to learn how to play again." So much of what we do, we do out of obligation, real or imagined. So much of what we do, we do because we think we have to do it. We do so many things in our quest to be efficient. But I sat there watching my children at play and almost everything they do, they do simply for the joy of it. So let me ask you, what do you do just for the joy of it? When was the last time you did something just for the joy of it? It is one of the things I admire in people. Many of the people I admire do much of what they do just for the joy of it. They love it, they're passionate about it. It brings them joy. There are things they do because they're obligated to do them and things they do because they promised they would. And there are things they do simply because they are the right things to do. But they have more of these other things. They have more of these things in their life that they do just for the joy of it.
If you look a little closer, you'll discover something fascinating. For the most part, they do the same things that everybody else does but they approach them very differently. They may work hard, they may work as hard as the next person, they might be the hardest-working person you know but they don't do it just to make money or because they feel like they have to. They have found a way to work joyfully. They don't focus on getting it finished so they can take it off a to-do list, so they can do something else, move on to the next thing. They focus on enjoying what they are doing and doing it well, doing it to the best of their ability. What can you do today just for the joy of it? How can you do the things you did yesterday, the things you do every day, how can you approach them in a new way so that they bring about an explosion of joy in your life?