Count It All Joy
While our feature article this month, “Less Stuff, More Joy,” is about the pleasures of a simpler lifestyle, it also got me thinking about the word joy, and how expansive and pervasive it is, yet how elusive actual joy can be. It’s such a little word with such great impact. Wikipedia defines it as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness;” Webster’s says “the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires;” the Greek dictionary cites “cheerfulness, calm delight, gladness.” Theopedia, an encyclopedia of biblical Christianity, defines it as a state of mind and an orientation of the heart: “a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope” and “something or someone that provides a source of happiness.” In fact, the word joy appears 88 times in the Old Testament in 22 books and 57 times in the New Testament in 18 books. What’s clear is that joy is an inner state of being; each of us defines and experiences it differently.
Joy can be elusive when we mistake it for happiness. Joy comes when we make peace with who we are, why we are and how we are; happiness tends to be externally generated, and is centered on other people, things, places, thoughts and events. For me, joy is a choice, one that I must constantly cultivate. I guess that’s why I’m attracted like a heat-seeking missile to people who exude it. Even in a crowded room, when I spot someone across the room who is exuding joy, I’m going to make my way to meet them.
I love talking with them and being in their presence, because that’s how I want to be. However, I’ve come to realize that cultivating joy requires much more than just being in the presence of joyful people. My own sense of joy depends on and is influenced by the small daily choices I make—how I spend my time, who I spend it with, how I use my resources, how meaningful these things are to me and most importantly, whether I feel I’m making a positive impact during those daily interactions.
In “Less Stuff, More Joy,” Ronica O’Hara traces an unexpected effect of the pandemic: people choosing to live simpler, more sustainable and conscious lifestyles, and even moving to more restful locales. Her article opened my eyes to the fact that I must clear out some things to make more room for joy in my life! By decluttering physically, mentally and emotionally, I have more time and bandwidth to do the inner work of cultivating joy and bringing joy into the lives of others. Have you come to this realization too? If so, I challenge you to join me in checking off as many boxes as possible in the Living Lighter Checklist at the end of this article. Let’s start by checking off at least two items each month.
I also hope you will be moved to action yourself or to encourage your loved ones to action by both Healing Ways department articles, “Healthy Breast Basics,” and our complementary local article contributed by Dr. Bindupriya Chandrasekaran, of Texas Oncology. Although October is Breast Health Awareness month, we hope you stay vigilant on this front all year round.
Finally, we trust you will be enlightened and comforted by our look at what our big three water utilities are doing to make sure we have an adequate supply of safe water to keep up with our rapidly increasing population here in North Texas.
As usual, this month’s issue of Natural Awakenings is chock full of enlightening, useful information that will help you in your journey of living a healthier life on a healthy planet.
Blessings until next month,