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Joy to The World


“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Christmas is just around the corner and it is expected to be a time of great joy; but what does that really mean, and can that heavy mantle of expectation become burdensome?

 

Expectations of ourself and others often causes misery rather than joy and believing that we are responsible for creating joy can be overwhelming.

 

What does joy mean to you?

 

The dictionary  definition of joy is simple: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. What it means to each of us individually is hugely more complex.

 

For many of us Christmas joy is about sharing. The giving and receiving of gifts, watching loved ones unwrap carefully chosen presents. Sitting down together to enjoy good food, company and conversation. Sharing with those less fortunate than ourselves.

 

For some, joy is about connection. Spending precious time with family and friends. Those we haven’t seen for months or even years.

 

Some of us have children with whom we have a lifelong connection. They are a constant source of precious joy, whatever may happen!

 

We don’t need to be with a person to be connected to them. Lost loved ones will always be remembered and whilst that remembering brings sadness, there is joy for the times we had and the wisdom that they taught us.   

 

Joy can be about connection to our body and connection to Self. Understanding our thought process and emotions and how they influence each other and our behaviours. This self-awareness is hugely empowering, setting us free from past, limiting beliefs, thoughts, feeling and behaviours.

 

There is joy in recognising our connection to the Earth. Winter is a time of rest and hibernation, contemplation and planning. There is a power in nature that we can harness, and a brisk walk on a frosty morning is joyful.

 

When we enjoy art or music, the appreciation of the work of another is connection and their creativity brings us joy.

 

For others, Christmas is about gratitude. For the generous gifts, delicious food and the time to enjoy them. For the wonderful people that we love and the pets who bring us joy. Gratitude for our five senses so we can fully appreciate every moment; to see, hear, feel, smell and taste. We use these gifts day in day out. They keep us safe as well as helping us to enjoy every experience.  

 

It seems then that sharing, connection and gratitude are all components of joy.

 

In her fantastic TED Talk, Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of ‘Joyful’, describes joy as intense positive emotions felt in the moment. She is interested in how the physical world can create intangible joy and her website ‘The Aesthetics of Joy’ is dedicated to this concept.

 

For us, joy is positive body chemistry, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, and these are there for the taking. When we engage in activities that bring us joy we are joyful. When we practice mindfulness and use all our senses to explore the present moment without projecting into past or future we generate these chemicals. When we let go of past hurts and fearful thoughts they are in abundance.

 

Perhaps then, joy is in fact a mindset? A way to frame everything that happens. By this we don’t mean ignoring adversity; we mean understanding that gratitude for all our connections, the gifts we are given, and the lessons we have learned is joy. We can be joyful whenever we chose to do so and in doing so we embody hope for the future.

 

Try this:


Over the Christmas period do what gives you joy:

Give

Share

Connect

Cook

Exercise

Relax

Start a new project

Finish old projects

Binge on boxsets

Get out in nature

Visit an Art gallery

Consider volunteering

Spend time with loved ones and pets

Turn the music up loud and immerse yourself in it

Read a good book (we recommend How to Rise!


Remember joy is not about perfection it is about doing the things that make you smile

Merry Christmas

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2 Comments


therabbi
therabbi
Dec 23, 2023

I would be hugely remiss if I didn't mention here that joy for me includes having 2 of my dearest friends, Karen and Chrissie, on my short list of those most deeply treasured! I love you both. xoxoxo

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Neil
Neil
Dec 23, 2023

A very relevant article for this time of year and I really liked a lot of what it had to say, especially all the different suggestions around how to experience joy. But some of it I found hard to read and this made me feel tearful tbh. Especially the parts that related to family, friends, seeing people and sharing that were prominent in the article, like this is the norm. Just like the ads on telly like to portray.


And indeed it is the norm for many, but not for some people like me again this year. So I will take on board all the suggestions and positivity. But it made me wonder how would this article would be different…


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