Week 6: Joy
What is Joy?
|Core Essay on Joy|
Joy is pushed as being the most important emotion. If we feel Joy, then we are doing well and if we feel the opposite, remorse, then we are not doing so well. I imagine for many of the people participating in this challenge Joy will be the greatest tease. It should be the easiest challenge. But I am willing to bet that many of you find that compassion and generosity come much more instinctively. When confronted with situations that require compassion, I never seem to fail to act appropriately. But Joy is slightly different. It is true that while in public and surrounded by strangers, my instinct is to present Joy. But when I am alone, or with people I trust, my default position is not always Joy. In fact it is rarely Joy in those scenarios.
Why is it that the simplest emotion, Love is Good, is the hardest to remember behind closed doors? Joy is often confused with happiness, but these two ideas are slightly different. Happiness requires Joy, but the same cannot be said for Joy. Joy can exist without happiness, and in fact it most often does. Joy is more complex than happiness because it arrives from an awareness of one’s position in life. Joy is taken from the journey, rather than from the particulars. When we come to see that our life is an adventure full of ups and downs but with one specific target in mind, the particulars become less important. The voyage takes primacy. Joy is found in the moment, when we allow the moment to simple be what it is. Joy is not so much created, as it is participated in.
This Weeks Challenge
Most people equate joy with happiness. But let’s take a look at Happiness, shall we? “Happy” comes from the root word “happen”. Furthermore, “Happen” comes from “Hap”, meaning chance or fate. So, one can reasonably conclude that The feeling of “Happiness” comes from something happening to a person simply by chance. Joy is completely different. Joy is a source of delight, it’s what “happens” to bring about happiness.
Joy is often confused with our more fleeting emotions. Joy comes not only from happiness, but from anticipation, excitement, contentment, comfort, affection, pride, satisfaction and wonder. They are all Joyful states of mind, but unlike Joy, none are permanent. Joy is the path we take to arrive at these emotional destinations. Where happiness is a destination, Joy is the journey. We must not get too caught up in the destination, when the journey alone is something to rejoice in.
The following examples are suggestions only. Feel free to incorporate as many of them into your daily life as you are able to, or create your own examples of Joy.
The following challenge is split into three categories. Please complete each category and send an email with an essay describing how your week of Living in Joy has changed you. This essay can be anywhere from 500 to 1000 words and will become a post on this blog.
The most common form associated with true Joy, Joyful excitement is essentially “happiness”. It is Joy that arises from the act of having fun. When we pursue activities that bring us a thrill we will find that we cannot help but be Joyful. This form of Joy is easily spread to others as well. By including others in our moments of excitement we can also help them to feel our Joy. Joy can be as infectious as any of the other emotions and times of excitement are often the times when we share Joy most freely.
For this week, try to engage in as many activities that you know bring you Joy as possible. Invite your friends and loved ones to join you as well. Joyful Excitement is created by going out there and grabbing life by the horns.
• Go for a hike somewhere in Nature that you have never been before. Turn it into an adventure by packing a lunch and bringing your camera along.
• Take a day off and visit a water park or amusement park. Go on rides, eat cotton candy. BE a kid for a day.
• Rent your favourite movie and have some friends over. Make a fun party snack that you Love and share it with everyone there.
This next category that we will investigate this week is one which I believe is very important to fostering a permanent sense of Joy in our lives. Joy comes from many things, but one of the greatest sources of Joy is the ability to recognize happy events in the future and look forward to them with true anticipation and Joy. This is not quite the same as Hope, because in Hope we create Love by moving towards our goals with positive actions. In Joy we simply move through life with a pleasant spirit and a positive mind frame, enjoying every bump along the way. There is less creation and more participation in Joy. Joyful anticipation arrives when we see the good in waiting for things.
There are many experiences in life that can bring us remorse or sorrow if we look at them through tinted glasses. A lover leaving on a trip for three weeks could be a sad event. Or it could be a Joyful one. It all depends on how you view it. If you are able to keep Joyful anticipation in mind, even when we are forced to separate from our Loved ones, we can still see the Joy in our separation.
For this week, try to think of something that you know will be coming to you in the future. Try to rationalize to yourself why it is better to wait. Come to understand that the waiting is what makes the event so special and plan on greeting the wait with Joy.
Another label for this category could have just been “At Ease”. When we find joyful contentment, we arrive at a position of satisfaction. We are at ease with our positioning in life and satisfied with our contributions. We are grateful for what we have and aware of both the positive and negative influences in our lives. But even the negative influences bring a smile to our face. Because we understand that without them we would have no reference point. Life would become boring and Joy would seem mundane. Joy arrives when we accept that life is not always perfect, but that is what makes it so amazing!
For this week, try to visualize the path that has brought you to where you are today. It will be full of positive memories and negative ones. Please, write about how the person you are today could only have existed with both stories in your past. The positive stories shape our expectations, but the negative stories shape our reference point. They allow us to understand compassion and generosity and the more complex emotions. And they lead us to new and interesting perspectives. Joyful contentment comes from recognizing your past and greeting it with a smile.