Friday, October 23, 2009

Joy

I wonder: what is joy? We have conferences about finding one’s joy. We are encouraged to do things “joyfully.” But what is joy?
We are unable to quantify joy. We do not have a clear definition. My little dictionary says: “gladness, pleasure.” But what does that mean? We know when we have joy. We know that feeling that wells up within us when our hearts open and our spirit sings within us. We certainly know when we lose our joy. Life seems to lose its luster. How do we get joy? Often we find ourselves blindly seeking after it, like it can be found or achieved like climbing Mount Everest. We think that one day it will be ours, forever.
I read an article in Newsweek recently about happiness. We often interchange happiness and joy, so I think that the article has something important for us to know. The article ended with a quotation from Eleanor Roosevelt. In effect she says that happiness is a byproduct. If your goal is just to go out and find happiness, you will embark on a fruitless journey. I agree with her.
Think of the time and energy that is wasted in looking for happiness or joy in someone’s arms, at the bottom of a bottle, or filling up space with stuff. We don’t feel joyful. We just feel empty and used. We use others in our mission to find happiness or joy, but what if joy is just a byproduct of love?
If joy is just a byproduct, maybe we need to seek after love. We must chase after and pursue love in all its glorious forms. Perhaps if our goal is to go out and find love, joy will be our companion (of course, usually joy’s buck toothed, boorish sister sorrow tags along too). We find love when we put ourselves out there, when we give our love (even knowing that it might get rejected). We freely offer our help to others. We smile at strangers. We listen to each other. We begin a journey to love, and joy comes too!

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