“Your joy is your purpose. Your purpose is to recognize and honor your joy.”
Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about what it means to be joyful. It could be because I work closely with a student whose middle name is Joy. Our weekly meetings somehow always meander back to the idea of being happy—being joyful.
I love that her name is a call to action. It’s her constant reminder to live joyfully—and she rises to the occasion more than she realizes. Being around her instantly lifts my mood and makes me joyful.
As these things go, once something is on your radar, it feels like suddenly it’s popping up anywhere and everywhere.
Joy has surfaced on my Instagram page, in television commercials, the holiday decorations that are already displayed in storefronts, and just this weekend, another student sent me an email and ended it with, “Have a joyful weekend!”
Joy is contagious it seems.
There was also this conversation with my husband last week.
As we were readying to leave for a birthday party, I remembered I still had to write a message in the card. (For a writer, this can take longer than you might expect—especially when the writer’s favorite topics include being mindful and inspiring those around you.)
My husband sat at the table, waiting, when he very sweetly complimented me. I stopped writing, looked up at him, smiled and gave a sincere thanks.
The moment was one of those times that makes you just want to take a deep breath and take it in to make it last a little longer.
He looked back at me.
He looked at his watch.
“Hurry up! Finish writing the card! We’re going to be late.”
Moment interrupted. (He had a point, but stay with me here.)
“Can’t I just be in the moment for a minute? Don’t rush my joy!”
He laughed. I looked at him with the most serious expression I could muster.
“Don’t rush my joy,” I repeated.
“You like saying that, don’t you?”
“Yes! Yes I do! I’m probably going to write about this.”
He hadn’t realized that joy had been on my mind for a while prior to this exchange. Now that it was, I wanted to keep it for a bit!
So often people seek happiness. They say they want to be happy, or want to find their happiness. But the thing is, happiness is all around us and if we are open to it, we will find that our day is filled with opportunities to be happy.
It can be getting a good night’s sleep or having your coffee made just right by the barista. It can be hearing from a good friend you haven’t talked to in a while. It can simply be having one of those days that goes smoothly where no major stresses crept in.
But joy? Joy is like a firecracker that bursts into the sky, stealing your breath. Just as you fully recognize the full scope of its beauty… poof. It vanishes.
But I believe we can hold onto the feeling longer. I believe we have to try.
Typically, we reserve joy for the big moments: a wedding, a birth, a job offer, a trip of a lifetime. And yes, those things are joyful. But joy is also what happens we let those smaller nuggets of happiness wash over us and fully sink in. Happiness expands and grows and voila! Before we know it, we are enveloped in joy.
Part of experiencing joy means recognizing it when it hits us. It means allowing the feeling to sit back and stay for a while. Then it means being mindful of holding onto it, of calling it back in anytime we need to.
We’ve become so accustomed to living our lives rushing around from this to that, one thing to another, that we often do the same with our emotions.
Our emotions become as fleeting as fireworks.
After all, who has time to sit in one space—mentally or physically—for too long? Who has time to sit with emotions and let ourselves feel them fully? Please, you might say. There are things to do, appointments to get to, people to see, new emotions to feel.
We are taught to move at lightning speed and to let things go when something bothers us that sometimes, I think we fly through and let go of everything—even the good.
But our emotions shouldn’t be fleeting; they should be felt. (Tweet that!)
Instead of brushing over emotions—joy, happiness, excitement—let’s embrace them. (Tweet that!)
Honor them. Let them fully sink in. The more we do that, the more we will recognize and appreciate these feelings when they come to us. And the more we will be able to call them back anytime we need to.
Do it right now. Take a deep breath in and let yourself be whisked away to something that gives you joy.
Make it your mission to recognize your sparks of joy. And then? Light them up whenever you need. Let yourself be lit up. Be so joyful, everyone else notices and feels it too.
Joy is contagious.