Joy: it’s one of those concepts, those realities, that you think you know what it is and how to get there, but if you’re actually asked to give a definition of it and a defined path to it, you realize that it may be a little bit harder to figure out than you thought.
Joy: we’re pretty certain when we don’t have it, but not as sure about when we do. We think things like “Is this really joy?” “Maybe it’s just happiness, or just pleasure… or just what’s the difference anyway?”
Joy: there are paths that we’re pretty sure won’t lead to it (like vengeance, greed, obsession, materialism.) There are other paths (like service, love, compassion, or therapy) which we think ought to get us to joy, but we are hesitant to say for sure.
There are times when we genuinely felt joy in an external circumstance or something wonderful that happened in our lives, and other times when we thought we should be filled with joy about something but weren’t.
Well, I’m not going to pretend to be the world’s expert on joy, and I’m certain that I certainly don’t have it all figured out. But I will say I know this for sure, that joy is an inside job.
It’s pretty obvious that there are people who have pretty challenging or just plain crappy outside stuff going on, but still have joy. And there are people who have all the toys and all the advantages who are still miserable people.
So if joy is an inside job, what’s the path? What actually brings joy into our life? The best definition that I’ve ever read is from Danielle LaPorte:
Joy is what happens when you make contact with your Soul.
That can be while reading a book, or being in the arms of someone who loves you, or finishing up a project, or helping someone in need, or just gazing at a sunset. It can be a thousand different things to you, and could be a thousand other different things to someone else.
Each soul, or maybe even better each Soul (capital S), the very deepest part of us, what some would call our Spirit, the part of us that is eternal and that communes with God, is inside, waiting for us. Waiting for us to truly know it and commune with it.
That may come in prayer, that may come through sorting out and healing our inner wounds, that may come in just the ordinary everyday living of life, or it may come in the big decisions and movements of what we might call our “life purpose.” Actually, it’s all of those three: it’s inner communion and healing, it’s everyday living, and it’s life purpose. All of those intentionally done bring us into contact with our Soul, bring joy into our life.
So I encourage you to see joy not as something you pursue in itself, but as the fruit of meaningful inner work, meaningful everyday living, and meaningful life purpose. Seek out to make contact with your Soul as you live you life, and you will find your life being more and more filled with joy.