Are you seeking happiness? How’s that going for you? Is happiness something you find or something you are? Does it come in small, inconsistent bursts that feel amazing in the moment but after a short time, the initial high quickly dissipates? Let’s shift our perspective and consider what living in joy would be like.
Happiness often seems fleeting, perhaps because, if we are truthful, it simply is something that comes and goes. If you ask me if I am happy, I might be because I just received a raise, promotion or other wonderful piece of news. I might have just watched one of my children score a three-pointer, or dance a beautiful performance. I may have just watched a laugh-till-I-cried movie, or witnessed a friend get married. So certainly yes, I am happy.
Sadly, those specific moments and that excited, elated, even jubilant feeling won’t stick around forever. I move on to something else and life throws in all types of obstacles, lemons, and curveballs. Suddenly, I am straining my neck, looking around wanting to call out, “Hey, Happiness, where are you? I didn’t ask for sadness, chaos, disappointment, frustration…come back Happy, come back!”
The funk begins to creep in. Motivation is waning, apathy tries to overtake passion and disinterest is like a nagging flu. Why? Because I have put all my eggs in one basket; allowing things or people to make me happy rather than finding and living joy from within.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want those external things that bring those small moments and bursts of exuberance! They bring laughter, excitement, pride; a temporary buzz might be a good way to describe it. These things give a boost of energy to push through to the next moment so bring them on.
What I really desire, is the permanent high, the euphoria that comes from living in joy. It’s a choice and it’s not always easy. Life brings so much heartache, grief, anger, toxicity and negative energy, how can anyone find joy let alone live life embracing it?
“Joy is the emotional dimension of the good life, of a life that is both going well and is being lived well.” ~ Miroslav Volf
“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” ~ Joseph Campbell
Joy and happiness are both wonderful feelings to experience. One side of the argument is that happiness is a synonym for joy and that they are one in the same. I tend to subscribe to the other side of the camp in that joy is more a consistent emotion and is cultivated within ourselves. Happiness is often externally triggered and is based on the words and actions of other people, things, places, thoughts and events. Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are, how you are and who you have yet to become.
As a society, and I know I’ve experienced it personally, I think we have become numb to what joy feels like. We have become desensitized or we just stay in our lane rather than standing up for something, someone or ourselves. We let family, friends and work suck the life out of us rather than finding our brave, rather than feeding our souls. To gain that feeling, we turn to temporary fixes: food, drugs, alcohol, and other addictions. Or, we simply resign ourselves to settling in and living in mediocrity—that we just can’t possibly ever be happy.
Why? When we have the choice everyday, every moment to pick joy, why would we choose anything less? Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how we are going to respond to life.
According to an old proverb, “the body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter, and the spirit heals with joy.” Joy also comes with mindfulness, meditation, faith, and in life’s journey itself. There can be joy in grief as we celebrate life, it can be present in sadness as we recognize how good things really are in spite of a momentary unsettling event. There can be joy in depression and anxiety as we learn who our true friends are. It can be present in failure if we let it ignite the spark of passion to begin again bigger and better.
There is joy in giving. The more we have within ourselves, the more we have to share. There is joy in living in gratitude. I suggest cutting back a bit on social media, the news, people and routine tasks that suck it out of us and replace these things with meditation, people with positive energy, and journaling about all for which we are grateful. Focus more on your faith or perhaps revisit your spiritual side if you have been away for awhile. Learn to love solitude to get your core grounded again.
Embrace the simple experiences and pleasures and be passionate about them. When we’re moving at a breakneck pace, we take the simple things for granted. When we are more present, the simpler things become joyful; the food we eat, the air we breathe, the beauty of surrounding nature fill our souls completely.
If we are more in touch with our true selves, the less likely we are to need (we still want them, we won’t need them) those external influences to experience momentary happiness. Joy becomes a more constant state of being. It’s not about what does or doesn’t get us here; we are already living joyfully from the inside out.
Brendon Burchard tells us, “When you are alive with joy, gratitude, and genuine interest in others, you are your most beautiful. Remember that. Now go out and stun the world.”
We have joy not in spite of our circumstances but because of them. Happiness is nice; joy is beautiful beyond belief. How can you not choose beautiful? Life is such a precious gift, I choose to wrap mine in gratitude, faith, passion and joy. In living this way, I can make the conscious choice to spread my joy into the world instead of negativity.
As Keala Settle sings, “…look out ‘cause here I come and I’m marching on to the beat I drum. I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me!”
I choose a joyful life, no matter what comes my way!
 Songwriters: Justin Paul/Benj Pasek Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC