You don’t hear this word very often: it is not a common part of our vocabulary – what a shame! It means delighting in something and is linked into its original meaning of playfulness (jouer in French). We do use the verb, enjoy, which means to feel the joy inside you, but we have diminished its meaning somewhat and reduced its positive impact on us.
So what is this joy?
I believe it is an innate part of human nature and needs nurturing inside us, if we are to be healthy happy human beings. It is that feeling of your heart singing, and things that evoke it do so over and over again. It goes beyond pleasure – that is temporary; a thing that gives your spirits a brief lift and then becomes taken-for-granted. Joy nurtures us, enhances our spirits each time we experience the same thing.
The effects of joy on us are powerful.
- It enhances our physical health, because we release the positive hormones in our bodies that help us to heal and thrive
- It enhances our mental health by literally opening up our minds, to be more creative and constructive, to have a bigger perspective
- And joy enhances our emotional health by reminding us to appreciate the wonders of life rather than just the mundane everyday
Why don’t we have more joy in our lives?
I think we all automatically notice the sources of joy when we are little. As children, we have an open link to the potential for joy, so we delight in colours, shapes, smells, sounds – anything which taps into that place in us. And then we learn to ignore these things and get into the busyness of life where there is no time to stand and stare, no time to appreciate the moment, because there’s too much to do. We also learn that the simple things that evoke joy in us don’t count or aren’t valued: ‘It’s just a cloud,’ when we saw a wonderful dragon shape flying across the sky!
Re-find the joy
Delight in that first daffodil flowering – take a moment to allow it to make your heart sing.
Love the sound of the birds singing, even though it’s a grey, miserable day.
Take your shoes off and feel the dewy grass beneath your feet.
Really enjoy that fresh food you’ve prepared, that first cup of coffee – savour the tastes.
Joy is both simple and profound. It is readily available, should we choose to notice the possibilities, and it enriches our lives beyond measure.
Enjoy yourself: those adults were wrong who gave no value to it – ignore them and make your life joyous!