No, this isn’t an ode to Ren and Stimpy! Though I must be aging myself by remembering this!
In this season of Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza, there is this great tendency to confuse a great number of concepts that tie in with happiness and joy. But I find that the two are very different animals.
Happy is one of those things. We all want to be happy. But how do we make ourselves happy. And why does that sentence make no sense? ‘Making’ ourselves happy. Like we can force it upon ourselves.
Truth is happy is a selfish concept. ‘We’ want it for ‘us’. ‘I’ want it for ‘me’. We talk about making others happy but more often than not, what we do to make others happy has more to do with making ourselves happy.
As a lot, we humans are very selfish. And society these days is geared ever more to the idea of ‘me’. If you look at how we live, what we do and how we communicate, we’ve continually managed to isolate ourselves. How often are we in a room full of people? And the times we are, how often do we feel even more alone? Everyone texts but nobody talks.
I can’t name a lot of people who are truly happy. We shut ourselves in our homes. We use electronics to reach out to each other (this blog a prime example of just that). But the emotion that carries from a face-to-face conversation or even talking on the phone is completely lost when you see ‘I-heart-u’. Really connecting with people is becoming a sadly lost art. And its something that has to change. The more isolated we become, the less functional we’ll be and the more at risk we’ll all be by those who would manipulate our lives.
I see joy as a completely different thing. Joy is its own function and is a product of what I would call ‘something more’. Despite my lack of religious beliefs, I do believe there is a spiritual nature in all of us. Something that we haven’t been able to clearly define from a scientific perspective. Maybe we will one day!
That said, I look at the concept of joy as something that comes only when we are not focused on ourselves. Joy is rare. Joy is not and cannot be constant. Anyone who tells you they are in a constant state of joy is deluded. If Grace is more a manner of being, joy is the result of Grace.
When you take a few minutes to give to others, service others, without previously defined expectations on returns, you have achieved some sort of Grace. Giving and serving others is an expression of love. Not like family or marital love. But a love that is given freely to others, no matter your circumstance or theirs.
Joy is something that is given to you in return but you will only experience it if your intentions are truly unselfish. Joy is seeing that thankfulness in another’s eyes. Joy is in the honest expression of thanks. A tear filled smile. Or perhaps when you see that happiness they have for something for them but realize in that moment that they’ve been given something more. I’ve seen joy and experienced joy in the smallest of moments.
Joy should not be pursued. Joy cannot be expected. Joy is a gift that you cannot ask for. Joy is the reward for true generosity, whether of spirit or act, because spirit is in both.
Whatever the reason this season, go out with intention but not expectation. Give. Share. Serve. And when you least expect it, joy might be given to you. Think of joy as a mixing bowl and is what happens when happiness meets Grace. The results are priceless.