How often would you say you feel joy? Complete, total, uninhibited, childlike joy? The kind of joy marketers (or The Hallmark Channel) would have you believe everyone is experiencing this time of year. I’d hazard a guess that you would answer, not as often as I’d like. Surely is the answer for me.

Joy is a tricky emotion. The more you try to grab at it, the quicker it squirms away. It’s tough to fake, as it comes from the very core of your being. And it’s a deeply personal emotion. You can be in a room overflowing with joyful people, but unless it’s your joy as well you can’t experience it. Don’t believe me? Imagine yourself surrounded by strangers who just learned of the newest grandchild born into the family, and it’s a boy after several girls. Much celebrating, much joy. You can feel it, but not experience it, it’s not yours. Such a personal emotion.

And then the holidays come, with its intense focus on joy. If you’re not joyful, there’s something wrong. Funny how that attitude tends to waft from an extravert to an introvert, usually during a holiday social event or shopping trip. So much pressure. Enough. I’m here to tell one and all that joy can come from a quiet night in front of the fire, from finding the perfect eggnog to rum ratio, from saying screw it! to sending Christmas cards for the coughfourthcough year in a row. I believe Scrooges are born of folk sick of being told to be joyful at the holidays and so shut down any kind of joy entirely. I refuse to be a Scrooge and I refuse to have someone else’s joys thrust upon me. I have my own. 

It involves playing my flute in a holiday concert this weekend, successfully converting dearly loved Christmas cookie recipes to gluten-free versions, and remembering to purchase stocking stuffers for a change. They may be small to others, but they bring me great joy.

I believe all of us will experience complete, total, uninhibited, childlike joy…on our own terms.


2 thoughts on “Joy on our own terms

  1. I like this idea that everyone experiences joy differently. For me, joy is actually a little contagious, though, as an introvert, I totally identify with the aversion to a room full of joyful partygoers thing. I have experienced so much joy through having a daughter and seeing life once again through the eyes of a child. Having been a slightly overserious child myself, it’s almost better this time around! To hear my daughter laugh and enjoy a verbal joke or be silly gives me such pleasure. (okay not at bedtime). This is why I was drawn to teaching too. I found students’ smiles and greetings pulled me out of the haze one can get from the grind of a daily work schedule. Buoyed me. Being this responsive to my environment also made me soak up negativity too much. But having 5 classes a day would usually bring me a few happy moments to balance it out.

  2. Yep, you have nailed it here. It’s the little things that make us smile wide that make all the difference. If I were to pay attention to how little we’ve done for Christmas thus far, I’d probably be feeling a little Scroogy. I learned a long time ago though not to sweat the small stuff. And let’s face it – it’s all small stuff. Great post!

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