In my last post I asked the question—“What is Joy?”
The responses have caused me to think about joy in an expanded way. Thank you for your insightful, beautiful responses shared in italics below.
There are many ways to look at joy…and that makes sense. Perhaps we describe joy based on our most recent or joy-filled experience. Perhaps our sense of joy depends on our season in life or in our sense of purpose.
“Joy is a choice. Sometimes we don’t feel it, but we will more often be aware of those moments if we are eyes wide open.”
Joy can be a present-moment awareness—something special that fills our heart with gratitude—a beautiful sunset, a surprise hug, a gentle word of encouragement, a baby resting her hand on your cheek or her head on your shoulder. Words attempt to describe, and perhaps even re-create, this joy we wish to capture and hold in our hearts and hands forever.
“For me one incredible joy is seeing God in all of His awesome creations. Nature could never be duplicated by man. Mountains, valleys, canyons, arches, oceans, meadows, it all came from the hand of God. It all speaks of God. I view it all with great reverence and thankfulness to Him.”
Sometimes it’s just being in the presence of a child, a little one who has come from God so recently that we sense a holy presence that perhaps we overlook in regular human beings.
“Enough said.” (Picture of baby Hadley attached)
More often, though, the experience and feeling of joy escapes words. It can’t be verbalized or intellectualized. We just know it when we feel it. It’s the sweet spot of joy. Our heart is full.
“I think joy is a lot like bliss. I don’t know if I can cultivate it, because when it shows up, it’s so often a surprise. But perhaps you can try to set yourself up for it, by spending time with those you care about, doing things you want to be doing. I don’t think I’ve ever been surprised by joy when I was doing things I didn’t want to be doing with people I didn’t want to be with!”
And then there is an inner joy, despite our circumstances or sorrows or conflicts. Joy that is the grounding of our existence, the peace of knowing that we divinely placed here, with these people, this situation, and we are on a journey of giving ourselves and using our gifts for a higher purpose.
“For me, it is the ultimate confidence in the goodness of God, the assurance that our earthly lives are temporary…body, feelings, experiences, possessions, achievements, sorrows. Joy is not happiness, which is momentary, fleeting. When I am most “awake” and closest to God, I know this for sure. It seems getting older helps this to “stick”.
“Happiness is circumstantial but Joy is a gift of God and we can experience it no matter our circumstances.”
Sometimes we plan joyful moments—family reunions, time with friends, vacations. We look forward to those moments with “vorfreude”.
And other times we are disappointed that things don’t go as planned; they don’t produce the joy we had anticipated. But perhaps true joy is best appreciated as a surprise. (and why my word for the year is “surrender”…Surrender to Surprise.)
“First one must choose to be happy, reject negativity. Choosing to be happy is a daily process, just like brushing your teeth. Once you have learned how to reject negative feelings, the chaos that swirls around everyone begins to slow down making it possible to experience the universe and all its possibilities with clarity. Then pure joy shows up at your doorstep in the most wonderful and unexpected ways.”
“That moment when you say, oh, no, that happened. Then there is a voluminous silence that gathers within you. And in a flash something says, no big, it’ll be okay. That flash? That’s joy.”
And perhaps joy is abundant peace, knowing that the Divine is with us in all of life’s circumstances. Even in the difficult, sorrowful and painful times knowing that, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” ― Julian of Norwich
With gratitude, we cultivate joy, acknowledging that we are in the midst of great things.
The Lord has done great things for us; he is the source of all our joy. (Divine Office, Psalmody Antiphon)