Years ago, my daily work was centered around effectiveness and efficiency, primarily the differences between the two, and the reality that it all boils down to is the fact that a person could be efficient with things; however, it was a necessity to be effective with people. All people in your life, especially yourself! When you treat yourself or others efficiently, or as a task to be checked off — the relationship has a huge emotional withdrawal. This still rings true to me.
A few weeks ago, my BFF and fellow co-playwright were discussing the topics of happiness, outlook, decades of life — their meanings and significance, mindfulness, which ultimately came down to the essence of joy, and what gives us joy in our lives. We were discussing joy as it related to a character in the play we are writing, but it flowed over into our own lives and a much more lengthy, detailed and insightful conversation over martinis. The martinis only fueled the passion behind the discussion of joy. After much back and forth deconstruction, we came to an agreement, certainly not fully definitive, but a place where we both found consensus on the topic of joy.
- For a person to be seized with joy, you have to be open to it.
- Joy has to be a daily comrade.
- Joy is centered in an abundant mindset.
- A person has to make room for joy.
- For joy to be realized, it requires emptiness, space and decluttering of life.
- There is little to no room for joy when we are striving, collecting, or hoarding things.
- Joy cannot get in when you are full of anger, cynicism, or despair.
- Worrying about the future or complaining about past events blocks joy in life.
Merriam-Webster defines joy as — “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”
I find this definition to be part of why joy is so illusive in these modern times. It contradicts essence, and promotes substance (things) as a requirement to feel joy. Essence being the spiritual, the soulful, the deeply felt, but not always necessarily seen things in life. Substance promotes possession of things, money, property, power and belongings. The current lack of joy goes back to the old focus on the essential rather than the effective method of living life.
I prefer Oxford’s definition of joy as — “a vivid emotion of pleasure arising from a sense of well-being.”
I love this definition because it roots joy in a sense of well-being. We can have a sense of well-being every day of our lives. To me, this means that there is no reason why each and every one of us can’t experience joy on a daily basis. This means that we can find joy not only in the quiet of a life going well, but also in a life full of turmoil and even pain. This means that we can have lives with more joy without making major changes in the external aspects of our lives, but by making minor changes in the centers of our beings.
Twenty-fourteen. January. Right now. Far too many of us feel these things and endure days that fly by, but seem to drag on forever. Hmmmmm…Why? I suggest it is because we have subscribed to definitions of success and happiness that have nothing to do with the nourishment that our souls truly need in order to have more joy and thrive in very different ways.
Humans, yes — especially gay people are born for joy and deserve magical moments. When we are expecting them, setting ourselves up for that ‘well-being’ that Oxford defines, we discover those moments arrive ever increasingly in our everyday lives.
Declutter, re-focus, simplify and eliminate. Get rid of the massive amount of stuff that clogs your home, heart and your mind.
Rid your life of non-meaningful material things. Then you are free to experience the joyous freedom of nourishing memories in simple, pleasant surroundings.
Shovel out the anger, resentment and bitterness. Apply the greatest gift of all, forgiveness. By living lives of conscious self-acceptance and learning to forgive ourselves you become more able to forgive others. This loosens the debilitating constraints of anger, resentment, cynicism and despair, and joy swells.
Toss out the busyness and mental chatter of lives lived in the possible future or buried past. By learning to be in the present, you’re open to the treasures that it offers.
Rid yourself of scarcity thinking and walk with an appreciative heart. It’s nearly impossible to be gloomy when acknowledging the gifts that are present in your life.
Exit yourself from self-limitations, in behaviors and actions.
Sweep away worry, and explore the paradoxical powers of allowance and surrender. Worry serves as a signal, once you have done all that can be done for the moment, let go of worry and surrender to the joyous support of people and possibilities.
So, joy is a choice; you can either act like a person akin to what Voltaire says about madness, “Madness is to hold an erroneous perception and argue perfectly from it.” or change, embrace, and engage as Marshall McLuhan, advocated, “When things come at you very fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself.”
The secret to increased joy is within the latter quotation. Here’s to greater joy!