“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
Henri J. M. Nouwen
We all know how this time of year is “supposed to” be.
I’m not saying it isn’t.
Yet, what if we discovered what “joy” is for ourselves this year (and in the year to come) vs. whatever pictures or already-ingrained-perceptions of it that we have?
In life’s second half, we have an opportunity to move past the bustle of already-routined ways of experiencing life, and the holidays in particular. The kids may be off to college now. Our parents may no longer be with us. We may be still single or still married, neither of which we would prefer.
In the Back Forty, rather than have our holiday practices focus on old, unthought patterns, we can invent new ones as well as new perceptions.
Very often, we miss what might be possible for us to experience because of what we think we should/could/ought-to-be experiencing.
For example, some may be experiencing this season without the loved one they had always by their side. Others may be in the most challenging times of their lives, for one reason or another.
Those are very real experiences which – if we subscribe to the general pictures of how “happy” holidays are supposed to look – there could be a tendency to feel separate from this time of year…like an imposter or foreigner.
Time to invent! Rather than buy into the feeling of separation from the season, where could an experience of “joy” be found even in the midst of that?
Regardless of your current state, as my holiday gift to you, here is a helpful pocket list of various thoughts on “joy” so that you might use this season as a research project as to what joy can be for wherever you are now. What if you didn’t already know…and yet were about to discover?
Keep it close, share it with others…and explore your own Back Forty relationship to joy.
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.”
“Joy is untouched by circumstance.”
“Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”
“Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.”
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
“Consider it all joy.”
“Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.”
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive you will see it.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
“Remember that your natural state is joy.”
“Life is hard. Choose joy anyway.”
“A joy that’s shared is a joy made double.”
“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
“If you can’t find joy in the path you are on and what you are working toward now, how do you expect to find joy once you get there?”
“When you choose joy you feel good. When you feel good, you do good and when you do good it reminds others of what joy feels like and it just might inspire them to do the same.”
“We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”
“…Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.”
Robert Louis Stevenson