What Gives You Joy? – Jennifer Oaten
The past few years have been challenging for nearly everyone. Disconnected families, ill health, excessive work, uncertainty and isolation have impacted the emotions of many in our community.
Joy is one of our emotions that has been impacted. 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 fills you with a feeling of warmth and often makes us smile. It usually comes from connection with others, our family, our surroundings. We rarely find joy in possessions.
Joy is different to happiness which tends to come from material experiences, externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts and events. Happiness happens to us. Even though we may seek it, desire it, pursue it, we may also lose it.
We express the emotion of joy in different ways. We jump for joy when we win a close game or experience uncontrollable laughter when someone tells a hilarious story. We squeal with delight when opening a surprise gift or hearing good news.
My dog Charlie, a shitzu poodle, brings me joy. Every night she sits and waits at the gate, I open it with the remote, and she races out to greet me. She barks with delight, running about like a crazy thing. No matter what my day has been, she brings me joy at the end of my day.
Different things bring joy to each of us. The birth of a child, a blossom on a 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 all bring us joy. So many of these are part of our natural world, part of God’s creation. They are all free to us.
In our world, many of us pursue happiness for the longer term. Perhaps we should try to appreciate the joy of the moment and not be always looking to later, tomorrow or next week.
How can I experience joy?
The first step is to identify what brings you joy.
Here are 14 suggestions to get you started on identifying ways you experience joy.
- Walking in the rain and feeling the droplets on your face
- Appreciating the small things close by, such as a flower in your garden
- Sitting in a sunny spot and enjoying 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
- Dancing to a much loved ABBA song
- Making time to chat with a neighbour, you never know 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, including the dog.
- Have a social media free day to focus on being yourself rather than focussing on others and what others think.
- Driving your car, 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 feel joy, we feel good about ourselves. We feel confident, capable, lovable and fulfilled. There are many reasons why we all need to experience more joy in our life.
Joy doesn’t come from others; it comes from within us. 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 selves, the more joy we will feel. With joy, there is hope. The present is where joy lives.
We can overcome hardship and challenges with joy, as it helps give us the strength to look and continue into the future.
What has bought you joy today?