When I was little my mother used to call me her sunshine. I was, apparently, a bright, happy, singing, joyful presence dancing around the house. Then I hit puberty. It sucked. That's pretty much all I have to say about that! Then I grew up a bit more became an adult, had a son, and I was a happyish person, but I don't think anyone would have classified me as a sunshine. Somewhere I lost that lightness of spirit I had had as a child.
Then a lot of bad things and poor choices landed me in the middle of a new life. And suddenly I saw everything as a negative. If a bad thing happened to me, my attitude was SSDD (same shit different day). If a good thing happened to me my attitude was its not gonna last.
As I struggled slowly out of that mind set I realized that just not hating everything isn't enough. The bible puts joy on the same level as peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. The ancient Egyptians said Make today a happy day, Wear garlands of lowers and lotus, Forget your troubles, Dream of happiness.
What does joy mean? I think joy is appreciating what is around us. I think it is not taking people and places for granted. And mostly I think it is being open to the positive energy that swirls around us all the time.
What does being joyful look like? I think being joyful is a state of mind. I don't think you need to sing or dance, although if you feel moved to do that you should! I think joy can also be a quiet thing. The touch of a lovers hand, the feel of your baby's hair, the feeling that sweeps through your being at the sight of a beautiful landscape or the sound of a wonderful song.
If you lose your joy how do you find it again? For me it was being around those who are joyful, reconnecting with my Deity, counting my blessings, and spending time with my children. That feeling of pure happiness is so easy to see in the face of a laughing child.
I have an old friend who is dying of cancer. His name is Aaron and he has a blog about his experiences. One thing he repeats often is Choose Joy. Following his struggles has amazed and humbled me on so many levels. Reading his blog has reminded me that every day is precious, every person is a gift, every day we should choose joy for the benefit of ourselves and those around us.
What is it about joy that is so important to the human soul? I believe if we are truly joyful it puts us in a state of being where we can hear Deity, where our heart is open to the lessons and experiences being offered to us. Living our life with joy thanks Deity for putting us here in this time and place and for reasons we might not understand but accept and believe are the best thing for us.
In my morning prayers I make a concerted effort to choose joy. I remind myself to see the positive, the beauty, the hand of Deity in all things. Sometimes life isn't a bowl of cherries, but choosing joy sure makes it seem that way.