“Joy” is an interesting word. Take a moment and think: what other words do you associate with “joy”? Perhaps you came up with words such as, delight, pleasure or happiness? Perhaps you agree with the author, Melba Colgrove that “Joy is the feeling of grinning inside.”? “Joy” has become a rather old-fashioned word. It is often used in a religious context, but less so when referring to our everyday secular lives. But if you are approaching life with a ‘think positive’ frame of mind then you should surely be aiming to do the things and be with the people that bring you joy?
The first step is to examine your current situation: which parts of your life can you associate with those words we identified earlier? Maybe it’s your family, your work or even just finding half an hour to sit by yourself and read. So the question: “What gives you joy?” is just another way of framing questions that address whether you are leading the life that you wish to lead. But it is a very direct and focussed version of that old ‘life review’ question. It is precisely because “joy” is such a non-standard word these days that you are forced to look more closely at yourself.
Whatever the answers that you arrive at, the specific sources of your joy will be personal to you. They may change over time: the things that made you happy when you were 18 will not necessarily be the same when you are 40; or 65. But sometimes we don’t notice that our tastes and needs have changed and we continue to do the same old stuff and expect the same result. That’s why it is helpful to every now and then check where our happiness – our joy – is coming from.
Alternatively, look at the other side of the coin. If the opposite of joy is misery, sorrow or even despair, ask yourself if there are any areas of your life with which you associate those words. If there are, think positive! What could you do to stop doing or move away from these areas? At the very least, how could you lessen the impact they are having on you?
To return to the people and things that do give you joy: are you getting enough of them? Are they occasional highlights or are they regular occurrences? Just for a moment, let’s be greedy: as long as you’re hurting no-one, why shouldn’t you be happy, be joyful all of the time? Why not give yourself the right to be happy constantly? If you do, then you might start wondering what positive steps you can take towards more joy in your life.
A final quote: the composer, Richard Wagner said, “Joy is not in things; it is in us.” So think positive and look for the joy in your life.