It seems to me that at least in part the ability to create and live creatively flows out of joy. Happiness certainly helps but happiness tends to be somewhat transitory (as an emotion) while joy (which encompasses happiness, enjoyment, and fullness) is a much larger and frequently more permanent attitude. I believe it is actually possible to be unhappy because of particular situations or circumstances and joyful at the same time (a topic for another post?) and because of that I think it is important to create within our lives and to teach our children to both be joyful and to recognize joy and celebrate it.
For instance: when W was an infant and in the hospital for five long weeks neither we nor he were in a happy circumstance…we certainly would not have chosen it. Still when he learned to grab the toys hanging above him and smile at the medical staff we were able to experience joy and to hold onto that as we waited to find out what would change the unhappy circumstance. We were also able to communicate that joy to the children when they visited us in the hospital so that they could share it as well.
I think there are four things to remember as we think about bringing joy into our lives and homes:
- Joy needs to be communicated or shared. We must express joy to each other with words and deeds. Sing, laugh, talk, and celebrate in order to express your joyfulness. Often we cannot put into words why we are joyful but we must give expression to the fact of our joyfulness. Joy feeds on joy. It is contagious and when we act to show our joy others are drawn in, creating a joyful atmosphere.
- Joy needs to be apparent. We should show our joy in our environment. The colors of our homes, gardens and clothes should reflect our joy. To some extent this is a social construct, but if joy is going to be shared, then it needs to be reflected in our environment in a way that others will get without explanation. Joy is a bit like a joke- if you have to explain it something is lost.
- Joy needs to be fed. When Su comes running in to tell me “The tomatoes are getting ripe.” I need to share that moment with her. Of course,I know that they are hardly less green than they were when she looked at them two hours ago, but she is taking joy in them and I would squash something in her if I did anything but join in.
- Joy needs to be time-tested. Joy lasts and we need to both help it to last and expect it to last. Joy is one of the emotions/attitudes that we share with God (in fact Scripture speaks of God “…joying over us with singing…” (Zephaniah 3:17) did you know joy is a verb? I didn’t, but it makes sense. Happiness is something that comes to us as a good feeling. Joy is something that we choose to do and in choosing to joy we find that over time we are able to be more of who we were meant to be.
Do you have thoughts on Creating:Joy? Share them here in the comments or link over to your own blog posts…K