Rediscovering Joy

“Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.” – Wess Stafford

Sometimes, I get overly tied up in semantics.  I will read a word or hear someone say something, and get tied up on questioning what that particular word means to me.  I think that makes sense as I am someone who has always lived in the world of books and learning.  With that comes an intimate connection to words.  Many years ago, when I first started my Reiki training, we read a particular poem and were asked to underline any words that were uncomfortable for us.  The two words that I underlined were “beauty” and “vulnerability.” I didn’t know why but they made me feel off put.  Since then, I have done a lot of work to delve into the “why” about why those words were not connecting to me.  Beauty was not something I identified with.  It seemed in contrast to what I did identify with.  Intelligence.  I also felt that the word vulnerable was the exact opposite of what I wanted to be.  Strong.  I now know how wrong I was about those two words and embrace them.  I believe people can be beautiful and intelligent.  I also believe that to be vulnerable is one of the strongest things a person can do.  My 45 year old self does not bat an eye when the words beauty and vulnerability come up in any form.

This month, a list of prompts I follow has chosen to focus on the word joy.  Joy had the same visceral reaction for me as the previous two words did.  The first prompt from Effy Wild for March was “When was the last time you experienced joy?”  My response was “I don’t know.”  I asked my husband when he experiences joy.  He had a whole list for me.  When he walks the dog, when he is working on a new project etc.  I told him I don’t think I experience joy.  He looked at me like I had two heads.  He asked me if I didn’t feel joy when I was painting or reading.  To me, words are a language that I think each person creates for themselves.  We all have connotations about word meanings.  Some are good words and some are more negative to us.  Many people view the word “old” as bad.  I love getting older.  I view it as positive.  The word joy to me is a positive word but I think it is an amplified version of happy.  It says over the top excitement to me.  It is not a word I relate to in my everyday life.  I turned to the dictionary to look up the meaning.  It said:

a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
Why was I making this such a hard question?  There are so many times I feel joy.  When I read a good book.  When I relate to a story someone is telling me.  When I watch a ballet.  When someone comments on my blog that they found my post helpful.  When I watch Call the Midwife.  I always have thought of joy as excess.  I am not a hugely demonstrative person.  Joy for me, can be shown with a smile.  A clap.  Or tears of joy.  I think I will continue to explore this word for me during the month of March.  I would like to learn to be larger in my expression of joy.  Perhaps I am confusing people with my subdued  emotions.  I feel so much joy and gratitude in my life for the smallest things.  When my dog plays at the park.  When I hear birds sing.  When my niece and nephew give me a hug.  I will continue to find joy in my life and express my happiness when it shows up.
This is not necessarily a post about chronic illness, but that is not all I want An Undefined Life to be about.  We have so much more going on in our lives and heads than our illness.  The word joy is what is spinning around in my head right now.  What are some ways that you find joy in your life?
Wishing you all much joy in whichever way you express it,

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