Joy is what we are, not what we must get. Joy is the realization that all we want or need in life has been etched into our souls. Joy helps us see not what we are “going through,” but what we are “growing to”–a greater sense of understanding, accomplishment, and enlightenment. Joy reveals to us the calm at the end of the storm, the peace that surpasses the momentary happiness of pleasure. If we keep our minds centered on joy, joy becomes a state of mind. –Iyanla Vanzant
Joy always has been one of the most difficult concepts for me to comprehend. The way I see joy, it’s a feeling of complete happiness, peace, and celebration, and something that seems to be out of reach for me. Seems to be. I’ve learned as an adult that as an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, one of the tendencies that I’ll always have is that of not trusting happiness and positive feelings–there’s something in my mind that tells me that they won’t last, so I’d better not let go and give myself up to them. I believe that’s why I find joy so hard to conceive of–I’ve never let myself go to experience it fully, so it remains elusive.
As time goes on, though, I’m beginning to think that I’m joyful much more than I think. When Iyanla says that “joy is what we are,” I start to think that I determine each day my own level of joy, and that it’s up to me to decide just how joyful I’m going to be. I’m also learning that joy isn’t the ecstatic feeling that comes as a result of those special moments when everything seems to come together perfectly, but it’s more the feeling of peace that comes to me when I feel at one with the world.
In short, I’ve always seen joy as a sort of pinnacle of happiness, a running-through-a-meadow-while-singing-at-the-top-of-
my-lungs feeling, while in reality, I may be expecting far too much from it. The idea that joy can be a state of mind for me is somewhat liberating, and I can go about looking for joy in many more places and situations, knowing that it has as much to do with what I bring to it as it does with what I find.
Questions to consider:
- Are you joyful? Is it easy to be so?
- Which situations bring you the most joy? Are these the situations in which you find yourself most often? How much do you search them out?
- Are you a part of a joyful culture? Is joy the norm or the exception in the people you know and work with?
For further thought:
Joy is the characteristic by which God uses us to re-make the distressing into the desired, the discarded into the creative. Joy is prayer–Joy is strength–Joy is love–Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. –Mother Teresa