Joy is a skill. It’s a daily practice. It may be free and ubiquitous, but it does require some emotional effort.
It requires faith, the core belief that the things we love are legitimately good and worthy of our appreciation.
Maisel writes in his groundbreaking book about rethinking depression how there are familial, cultural, and religious injunctions against enjoying pleasure.
We have come to think that joy is too low a thing to honor, writes. And as a result, there are too many of us who reject joy as a significant meaning opportunity.
It saddens me. Joy is one of the rare things in this world that is literally a return with no investment. It’s ours for the taking, anytime we want, forever. What’s not to like?
Personally, joy has become a primary currency of value for me. It’s my unit of measurement. The sacred economy between myself and the world. My relationship with joy is stubborn and territorial in the best way possible.
Hell, if something brings me joy, and it’s not hurting someone else, then you better believe that thing will be pursued and experienced and expressed and appreciated.
If that sounds selfish, you’re right. That’s the point. Joy is the engine of wellbeing and self care. It’s a physiological imperative. And unlike most things in this chaotic and meaningless world, joy is something over which we can actually have agency.
Something we can create from whole cloth, from inside out, from the ground up. Thank god.
Gilbert, the great poet, said it best:
We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.
And so, joy requires patience, meaning taking considerable time to learn what our emotional currency actually is. It requires resilience, since we need to take sufficient time to explore our own sense of delight.
It demands humility, as joy is a substantive encounter of something much bigger than us. It suggests negotiation, since each of us must evaluate joy’s proper place in the economy of our life.
Indeed, the ruthless furnace of the world doesn’t stand a chance.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Do you find delight where few would dare to look?