“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”~ Henri J.M. Nouwen.
Huh. I haven’t really thought about “choosing” joy, as much as recognizing pockets of joy that “show up” in my life. The choices I’ve made to enhance that recognition have to do with being in-the-here-and-now, changing perspectives in order to recognize the pockets-as-they-pop-up in front and all around me, sooooo often choosing to focus on positive potentialities (vs the woe-is-me/them/it/us), and other similar life enhancing mindsets. Yet …. choosing joy? Interesting.
Then, I got to thinking about happiness. I feel happy when I am in a joy-moment. Or … am I feeling joy when I am in a happy moment? So, me being me, I decided to see if there was anything ‘out there’ that explained a difference between the two. This is one example of what I found.
“Joy is an inner feeling. Happiness is an outward expression. Joy endures hardship and trials and connects with meaning and purpose. A person pursues happiness but chooses joy.” [compassion.com]
Ok. that seems to fit in with Nouwen’s statement.
Then ~ this begs the question of how to “choose joy.”
I guess the Biggest piece of the answer to this question has to do with a Belief in joy. That joy exists, and within me. Next would be how to recognize joy when it is burbling around inside..(Whoa! There it is!! So that’s what joy feels like?! Cool !! I’ve experienced this before …. just didn’t know what to call it. Thought it was a bit of indigestion! Ha!)
Hmmm…May need some practice to recognize it ~ so go ahead and think of those times in the past, and the past-past-past where there has been a feeling of contentment. Deep satisfaction. Love. Gratitude. A quickening of the pulse at a beautiful moment. Feeling your eyes ‘soften’ or smile. I’m sure you have your own memory-moments from which you can pull.
Now that there is a recognition of the feeling, the next piece is a mental conversation with self. “Self. Pay attention. Find one thing every day that has created that/those feelings inside.” Just one thing. Hey ~ if you recognize more ~ bravo! Yet the ‘goal’ is to recognize at least one. To quote Thom Rutledge: “Practice makes practice.” Keep practicing the recognition of joy. Revel in the feeling of it. Celebrate it. And choose joy and keep choosing it every day.
Last month, when I was closing down my brother’s apartment, there were numerous moments of Joy. (‘Joy endures hardship and trials and [still] connects with meaning and purpose.’) There was meaning and purpose for what I was doing. There was joy being experienced in hugging a nephew. There was joy in connecting by phone with a niece. There was joy (for me) in the solitude of the space. There was joy in being with my sisters. There was joy in some of the ‘strangest places,’ including a neighbor child making a paper starburst and leaving it for me on the doormat. I felt joy. I welcomed it, felt it move through me, and was extremely grateful. (Another piece of joy.)
So how about you? You up to the challenge? Hope so.
Grab hold every moment!