Find Your Joy – Jennifer Oaten

Last night I almost fell over as I got out of my car. My dog Charlie, a Shih Tzu poodle, was jumping on me and was ready for her home time ritual.

Every night she sits and waits at the gate until I arrive home and open it with the remote, and she races out to greet me. She barks with delight, running about like a crazy thing. Every night, and no matter what my day has been, she brings me joy.

On Monday mornings one our grounds staff, Mladen, brings me a bunch of roses from the College garden, a tradition started initially by Vince our well-known, now retired, rose man. The colour, the fragrance and the care that has gone into nurturing these beautiful flowers always puts a smile on my face and brings me joy – the perfect start to my week.

Animals and flowers bring many of us joy. The birth of a child, blossom on the tree, a beautiful sunset, rainbows, a particular piece of music, a warm fire, sunlight warming our back on a cold day or a delicious mango, can bring us joy. So many of these things that bring us joy are part of our natural world, part of God’s creation. 

So how can we define joy?

Joy is an attitude of the heart and spirit, present inside us.

It is an intense momentary experience of emotion, which triggers our emotions and satisfies our soul, our inner self. Joy is exhilarating, and it can fill you with a feeling of warmth and often makes us smile. It usually comes from connection with others, our family, our surroundings or our God. We rarely find joy in possessions.

Joy is different from happiness. Happiness tends to come from material experiences, externally triggered and based on other people’s things, places, thoughts and events. Happiness happens to us. Even though we may seek it, desire it, pursue it, we may also lose it.

"Joy is different from happiness. Happiness tends to come from material experiences, externally triggered and based on other people's things, places, thoughts and events." Jennifer Oaten

In our world, many of us pursue happiness for the longer term but perhaps what we should endeavour to do is appreciate the joy of the moment. Identifying what brings us joy is the key to experiencing it.

Some suggestions that you may connect with:

  • Walking in the rain and feeling the droplets on your face
  • Appreciating the small things close by you, such as a flower in your garden
  • Sitting in a sunny spot and appreciating the warm rays on your back
  • Slowing down and really tasting, savouring tiny bites of your favourite treat
  • Saying thank you to others and explaining why you are grateful
  • Sending someone a card or letter to tell them you are thinking of them
  • Making time to chat with a neighbour, you might initiate a long-term friendship
  • Being still, closing your eyes and listening to the sounds of nature
  • Going for a walk with your whole family and your dog
  • Having a social media free day to focus on being yourself rather than focussing on others and what they think
  • Driving your car and playing your favourite song and singing really loud
  • Laying in a warm bath and feeling the tension ease
  • Doing kind things for others, no matter how small

When we are more present, the simple things in life become joyful; the food we eat, the air we breathe, the sounds of nature and our families. The more we get in touch with our true self, the more joy we will feel. With joy, there is hope. With joy, hardship and challenges can be overcome, and we have the strength to look to the future. Find your Joy!

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