What is your experience of joy? Are you waiting for something great to happen? When you smile do you let it soak into you with joy, or is it just on the surface? Do you expect to live a life of wild and intense joy? Do you hope to be over-joyed? Is joy a feeling that is reserved for a wedding or a birth or just some other momentous occasion? Are you intentionally joyful? Is joy just something that sometimes happens to you?
What I have discovered in this life is that JOY makes it better. Whatever ails you, JOY changes it.
Think about children playing - the laughter, the giggles. If we had to meet a certain amount of value or have a certain amount of pain - BEFORE - we could experience joy, what little kid would have met those thresholds? Instead, kids just are joy. They catch it and take hold and then they let it ring. Joy in the simplest of things. They do not wait for someone else to be different before they hold joy, they do not keep joy on the surface - they let it all the way down to their full belly giggles. Kids don’t temper their joy, rather they give themselves permission to be overjoyed, even bouncing off the walls.
Adults can be a different story. Many of us seem to have forgotten that we are joy. There could be lots of reasons: maybe we hold so many joy inhibitors that the joy can only stay on the surface, we decided somewhere along the way that we would wait for joy, or that someone else’s joy is more important than our own. There is more than enough joy to go around and for joy to go deep. Because here’s the thing - you were once that kid. You are joy.
I am not suggesting we be joyful all the time. Sometimes it feels like life itself limits our joy. Challenges persist. There is pain, sadness, and so much more. This isn’t about being someone pretending to be joyful about the things that are hard. These things ARE hard and to pretend they are not - keeps that hardness around. But what about the joy inhibitors that are more of a habit or a belief you could change?
I’ve found that for me, worry is one of my biggest inhibitors to joy. I heard on the radio the other day that everyone worries. Every human on earth. In the stone age, worrying kept us alive. A valuable instinct, yet we are not in the stone age anymore. I actually have no control over most of the things I worry about. If I did, I would just do something about it. But instead, I worry. I create scenarios, not joy-filled scenarios, but worst case scenarios. It can be hard to feel joy through all of that worry, it can be hard to get it past the surface smile to feel it down deep. I think it is possible that worry makes room for other things too - doubt, uncertainty, weakness. So a great question to ask yourself is - are you glad you are worrying? Is it serving you? If not, you could take a break from the worry.
Worry is one of the ways we cover over our joy. Other ways could be beliefs that we can only have joy when a certain set of circumstances is met, or that someone else’s joy is more important than our own (sacrifice). Get curious about what is limiting your experience of joy in any way. What could you let go of to experience a broader spectrum of joy? If you don’t need that pattern or belief; you can change it. I believe in you. There is no waiting for joy required. No threshold of pain experiences that have to be met before YOU can experience joy.
Bring me your light. I will bask in it, and I will share mine.
Image by IceEye from Pixabay.