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Joyful Joyful

May 2, 2015

joy 2If you’re like me and so many other people who know deep down inside that there are things you can do in your life that will make you happier and help you feel more fulfilled, but still feel that dull, empty feeling more often than you care to admit, this is for you.

There are not too many people who would say they don’t want to be happy; but on the other hand, many of us begin to acclimate to conditions in our lives and we are distant from our feelings if they aren’t strong and intense. We lose touch with what it feels like to be somewhat happy or joyful for a little while, anticipating that it needs to be a big and long-term thing. So we fail to notice or tune into the smaller things; almost as if we build up immunity against some of life’s little pleasures that can bring joy and happiness in our everyday lives. It is almost as if we become too preoccupied to notice if we feel positive emotions at all.


Let us begin by becoming very honest about what joy and happiness are and what they aren’t. First, what they are: Joy is a feeling. So is happiness. They are great and enjoyable feelings, but they are only feelings. And by definition, feelings are fleeting, readily changing and morphing repeatedly throughout the day. They can even co-exist with other feelings at the same time. But most importantly, we need to remember that feelings come and go. They are not constant or steadfast by any means. And this leads to what joy and happiness are not. Because they are feelings and are not constants, that means we cannot realistically expect a life filled with them.

If we are lucky enough, we have friends or family, who have wished us something as glorious as a life filled with joy and happiness. My intention is not to be a downer or a person to bring gloom and doom onto others, but a sincere reality check tells me that there is no such thing as a life filled with any particular emotion, be it good or bad. At best, we could have a life filled with more happiness and joy than sorrow and pain. In fact, with an uplifting attitude, we may even learn how to turn some painful moments into learning and growing moments. We may develop characteristics that assist us in finding the silver lining more often than not. But in reality, maybe the fact that we grow to expect happiness or joy actually becomes part of what causes us the pain.

Maybe we begin to think it is something that we should have, and when we experience some of the negative feelings that are as regular and occur as frequently as positive ones do, we then allow the original sadness or angst to grow and fester with added fear, resentment, doubt, disappointment, regret and a slew of other negative emotions. So we build a bonfire of negativity based on us turning a regular and normal negative that would pass in time, into something much worse and long lasting, since we anticipate and expect our lives to be happy and joyful more of the time.

Perhaps the most logical place to begin is by becoming more aware of recognizing the joy and happiness that is already in our lives, understanding that it is not necessarily a non-stop, continuous sense of positivity; but rather a feeling, one of many, and may come or go just like all other feeling. Let me lay out a few small, everyday examples of happiness and joy I find in my life.


I have a dog; two actually. But one of them, a little dachshund-terrier mix, has bonded more with me. Since I work out of my home, we get to spend a lot of time together, me and my little furry friend. He brings me joy! Sometimes, all it takes is me just watching him do what he does, like drag himself along the carpet to scratch his back, or pull on a toy and let me know he wants to play. I also find listening to the birds in the back yard a joyful event. This could very possibly be because of the extremely long and hard winter we experienced here in the mountains on the Northeast end of the country this year, but I am more tuned into the beauty of the sound they make, especially early in the morning; quite an amazing sound to wake to.


I encourage you to identify some of the places in your life where there is hidden joy. Hidden because it is unrecognized, and something we don’t devote any effort into finding; not because it is hard to find. If you are starting to understand by reading this, that joy is something that needs a bit of attention, then you’re starting to get the point. I like to compare it to the tremendous slice of my childhood and my personal Americana, “The Wizard of Oz.”
When Dorothy awakens after her ‘visit’ to Oz, she begins to understand that what she was looking for, way out over the rainbow, was right there in her own backyard, all the time. Not a bad thought to end this piece with.

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!


From → Family, Psychology

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