I found myself down a Commencement Speech spiral the other day, which I believe is how all good stories start. I don’t know whether this is normal or weird or indicative of the time of year, where exhaustion leads to existentialism. Or maybe I could classify it all as work and call myself productive. Nevertheless, I was here. Waking up to the reality I’d spent forty-five minutes watching motivational speeches which led me, of course, to Oprah. But I did stumble across some material that was not Oprah. I stumbled across actor Matthew McConaughey, which is always, of course, a delightful stumbling. Matthew McConaughey wanted me to know something about success. It is something I now want you to know. Because if I stumble across something that makes the hairs on the back of my neck prick up and the goosebumps on my forearms appear, I must write it down for me, but also, for you.
In a commencement speech he gave to the 2015 graduates of the University of Houston, McConaughey argued that instead of striving for happiness which is “result-reliant” and an “emotional response to an outcome”, we should channel our focus toward joy. “If happiness is what you’re after, then you are going to be let down frequently,” the actor said. “Joy, though, is something else. It’s not a choice, not a response to some result. It is a constant. Joy is the feeling we have from doing what we are fashioned to do, no matter the outcome.” And if we focus our energies on ‘the doing’ instead of ‘the achieving’, our success is defined by everyday moments over accolades. Which, I guess, brings me to your days. How do you want to live them?