(or how happiness is surpassed by joy)
💫 A lot of what I’ve been talking about lately can be filed under – no, not whatever – Positivity. I mean, you gotta need a positive attitude to be able and willing to help out others and to keep choosing to look upon life without losing hope. It’s not that I never lose hope, I’m just as human as y’all are, but I always end up choosing for the good part. And you know why? Because JOY.
💫 I first want to clarify the difference between happiness and joy. Though joy never goes without the uttering of happiness, the other way around is not guaranteed: happiness is not always a sign of real joy. Wait. WHATT?? Happiness is basically an outwards expression, while joy is an inner feeling. Joy has been won through trials and hardship and is of a lasting kind because of it: you could say it’s the harvest of what gives your life meaning and purpose. I can pursue happiness, but Joy, I Choose.
💫 Does the above makes sense to you? Let me try to elaborate. I can find happiness in a lot of things and yes of course, within people, but it’s a feeling that mostly doesn’t last. It is caused by an external happy occasion – there you have it – which could be anything really, from a nice card, to winning a prize in some raffle, you name it. I agree that some happiness will last longer than others, but it will eventually pass. No matter how hard I try to hold on to that feeling, as soon as the occasion has passed and the aftermath dies down, that happy feeling will slowly but certainly faint. I can only hope the next event will bring me that same happy state of being.
💫 Now JOY…when mentioning ‘joy has been won through trials and hardships’, this is what I have been talking about all along and what I mean: no matter what I’m going through in life, no matter how hard, and oh yeah, sometimes it seems unbearable, if I Can’t Manage to STAY Positive, I Will eventually CHOOSE to go back to that state of mind. Because choosing to go back, means going back to love, peace and thus… joy. There is no greater joy, than the one we feel when we manage to overcome our hardships in life. When we know we’ve defeated those trials that have been at us for so long. It’s more than a passing feeling of happiness – though we sure experience it that way – it’s something nobody can take away from us again. Well, unless we let them…
💫 There is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing happiness. We humans thrive on the feeling, so it will definitely make us reach further and helps us grow. However, when the euphoria passes, it can leave us ‘hungover’, coming down from that mental high can be pretty tough to deal with. it’s like waking up from a beautiful dream: the only thing we wish for is to fall back to sleep again and carry on dreaming. It’s just how life is, with its ups and downs and the higher the ‘ups’, the deeper the ‘downs’ seem to be afterward. Happiness is like a drug and I’ve known people who would do anything to pursue and capture that feeling again and again.
💫 I remember a conversation I had with a woman, one half of a couple, who was convinced they were the only couple who were dealing with marital problems. Uhuh. In her opinion, her pursuit of happiness was a daily failure, one she was not shy of sharing about at all to anybody who wanted to listen. Her complaint was rooted in the fact ‘she had never been happy – she didn’t consider her marriage a success – and didn’t know how to get there’. Asking her what that happiness should entail, wouldn’t render a logic answer in any way, so you could say she didn’t even know herself what exactly she was expecting out of life and more specifically, out of her marriage. I discovered years later, she was divorced.
💫 Now I’m not judging that divorce. There are a lot of reasons why that could happen to any couple and I’m not even going there. But if I am solely depending on my hubby to make me happy, that’s asking for trouble… I’m not saying this because Steve isn’t able to add to my happiness and even better, to my joy, because he definitely is! And one could argue the fact that spouses are responsible for each others well being, because yes. But my responsibility towards my joy is first and foremost my own. I can pursue happiness with everything that’s within me, apparently succeeding, while ‘jumping’ from one height to the next AND still feel empty in between. OR, I could choose to stay in love – now there’s a double meaning for ya – and have joy even when circumstances would assume the opposite.
💫 So in short I could say: happiness is temporary and obviously fluctuating, while joy is constant. If you’re in the first group, I hope you’ll find all the happiness there’s to be had for you, but just know, there’s more beyond that. If you feel you’re in the latter group, good for you! You’ve surpassed the happiness limits, to upgrade your existence within the JOY realm. While happiness can be chased and still stay elusive for many, I can choose joy as a way of living and become fairly invincible when it comes down to fighting the daily negativity and stress of life in general. Wow, sounds great, so what does it look like to live joyously?
1️⃣ Joy is (a) Constant
💫 Well I’ve already mentioned this one, but let me just add: do you realize that ‘constant’ literally means ‘unchanging factor’ and in other words ‘a situation that does not change’. Is It Even Possible, you may think. Well, it is, if you choose so. You see joy is more than a feeling and though it may be impossible to define and hard to describe, most of us do have a sense of what it looks like, how it ‘feels’ and more important, how blessed we are if we reach that state. Joy is directly linked to love and peace, better yet: Love is Joy and so is Peace. You want to argue about it? Didn’t think so…
2️⃣ Joy Inspires Creativity
💫 You know the saying ‘bubbling with joy?’ Real joy has the tendency to flow over, coming from within you, flowing into the world. It simply cannot stay unnoticed for long and I’m sure you’ve either experienced your joy affecting people around you or you being affected by someone else’s joy. It’s infectious in the very best way and encourages to express yourself in any creative way that suits you. The opposite is also true unfortunately: whenever we’re down or sad, or worse, depressed, in short, without joy, our sense of creativity feels clogged. It’s one of the things I hear most from the artists I am in contact with all over the world, (feelings of) depression will keep them from creating because they’re basically fighting for emotional and mental survival first. It’s a particular tough one, because creating can bring healing… I can vouch for that, since writing is a lot harder when I’m stuck in my head and keep focusing on all the bad stuff that’s around me. Therefore, The Choice.
3️⃣ Joy is Often Unreasonable
💫Aaah I Love This One! If you’ve been following my blog you can already sense where I’m heading at. You see, I believe real joy is something supernatural, since we humans tend to live by our emotions/feelings, which are not always that positive and joy is not depending on how we feel. Wait, whatt? Well of course joy is giving us all kinds of good, positive vibes, but even without them, joy can still rule over our lives. Joy goes beyond our natural feelings and can only be taken away when we allow it. O dear, now I’ve done it… more on that later. Anyways, joy is the reason I can make decisions that go against reason or common sense. The choices I’ve talked about, the ones that were looked upon with doubt and disbelief… the joy – read: also peace and love! – we had, made us do it. My real joy comes from my faith and that goes beyond any human limit.
4️⃣ Joy is Untroubled
💫 Oeff, is it? Yes I guess for me it is. A state of joy will make me look upon the bright side of life even when amidst of trouble. Can you look beyond yours? Can you ‘see’ what lies behind the ‘enemy lines’ ? Can you imagine, No, believe, you can get through it without losing that joy? It won’t be easy, far from it sometimes, but real joy also includes trust. Trust that everything will turn out just right, or, maybe even better. Since real joy is linked to peace, I can feel okay with making unusual or unexpected choices, I can also live without fearing the future. Listen, I’ve said this before, but I’m not in control of my life anyway, not really. There are so many things way beyond my control and worrying about it does not make me feel any better, nor does it have a positive effect on the people around me. That’s not the vibe I want to radiate. Does it mean I’m never troubled? Oh man, I wish, but I CHOOSE not to hold on to that. Repeatedly.
5️⃣ Joy is Enough
💫 I don’t know about you, but the above leaves only room for this conclusion really. Joy is Enough, because it includes all the main ingredients for a fulfilling and yes, indeed, happy life. It’s not a coincidence the Bible puts Joy right after Love and before the rest: Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. These 9 together are called fruits of the Spirit and it’s obvious joy happens on a much deeper level. In my opinion it is almost impossible to have real joy in your life if you don’t know love. Love is where it all starts – and should end to go full circle – it’s the basis on which we build, it’s the rich soil on which we sow and eventually, reap a plentiful harvest for a satisfying life. Of course you don’t have to agree with me and let me add that I really do feel for everyone who’s missing love in their lives. Whether it be the love from your family, or the love from a partner you are so desperately hoping to find. I do hope you will love yourself first though.
How do I Choose Joy?
💫 Now that we’ve gone through the characteristics, you might be wondering about how nice this all sounds, but you also have no idea how to get there. I wish I could give guarantees with every article I write, but there’s no such thing unfortunately. However, I have been trying to describe what real joy looks like, let me summarize. After you’ve realized you have a choice available, you have to be aware of the following: Choosing joy is similar to choosing love, it’s not a one time thing, it has to become a habit. Like with all new things we have to learn, the key is to repeat and repeat it many times a day, every day. I can say it will become a true habit at some point, maybe not as in, you will never feel unhappy again, but returning to your new basis will become easier and easier. Simply because you will be convinced that it’s the best way to cope with circumstances in particular and life in general. You’ll learn to look beyond it all and focus on the bigger picture.
How do I Make Joy a Habit?
💫 I’ve mentioned before it seems easier for us to hang on to the bad things than to rely and focus on the good stuff. This is certainly true when it comes to bad habits, they just seem to put up the least resistance and fighting them daily, repeatedly, is a drag really. It requires effort and, dang it, commitment. If we want to make joy a new habit, we have to turn our focus outward, again, repeatedly. Our attention should no longer be on our troubles, difficulties or even, ourselves, so yes, it requires self-control and some selflessness…it helps to connect with the ones around us who seem affected also. If we look again at the shortlist where I believe joy is a part from, it makes sense to reach out to others, to support, to aid and to receive it back. Though it’s not an easy road, it’s how joy will be cultivated and multiplied.
💫 Now you might be on your way to joy, but it’s still not quite the same as actually Being Joyful. It means you’re on a journey and the road can be rocky at times. With every step you take you’ll be learning to anticipate the traffic, as in, the people around you, as well as the bumps in the road. Together they will make you realize the choice is up to you again and again: will joy stay yours along the way? We all get side-tracked sometimes and we might have to turn around a couple of times to find the correct path, because there’s no way we will be able to do it all perfectly and in one go. But that’s OK, we learn while walking and we can consider every successful step as – little – victories, encouraging us to go on.
Joy as a Resource
💫 Last but certainly not least: you might not be aware of it, but you’re the only one who decides if you allow your joy to be taken away by circumstances or people. It’s exactly the same as with Love and Peace and all the other ones in the list. Their ours to ‘own’ and ours to ‘give up’. Free will, free choice, every time, every day. Yes again, every day, because joy is an unlimited resource! Joy grows joy, it multiplies itself, spreading when given away. Sow joy and you’ll reap it too. It’s just how it works even if you won’t see it immediately, the good will come back to you, sometimes when you least expect it but need it the most. If there ever was a time I needed this unlimited resource, it has been these last 2 years, dealing with the pandemic in my personal life. No matter how hard it was at times, holding on or, returning to joy, returning to the Giver of Joy, has been my saving grace. Every. Time. Indestructible Joy, get it while you can!
Wishing y’all a very Joyful Weekend, pass Start & go straight to Joy jail. You’ll be FINE ❤