Creating: Joy

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

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4 Responses to Creating: Joy

  1. Linda says:

    Gratitude is a necessary component of joy, I believe. When we recognize the elements of “gift” in various aspects of life, joy flows.

  2. K_Steinmann says:

    I’m not sure about that. Gratitude is so often mixed up with “being grateful” (as in “You should be grateful for …”) that at least as we currently understand it I would say that gratitude is a good addition to joy but not a necessary component. Rather I think that as we start to experience joy, we will gain the ability to have an attitude of thanksgiving (a form of praise and not (as gratitude is so often) a paying of duty to a benefactor.)

    Frequently I think that Christians are not joyful not because of some deficiency in understanding the good God has done for them, or because of an ungrateful heart etc. but because they/we have got the wrong end of the stick altogether. Joy and Thankfulness are not supposed to be conscious responses to God’s Gifts, they are states of being that we are restored to when we are restored to full fellowship with God. They are also part of what we were made to be (not attitudes we were made to have) but part of our being and as such they are not in any way limited to the experience of the Christian. In fact I know many more joyful and thankful people (note the “ful” at the ends of those words) who would not claim to be Christians than I know Christians whose participation in those states is obvious without their saying a word.

    I’m not sure what’s in my mind/heart is coming across clearly here….I’m just beginning to consider some of these things…K

  3. Linda says:

    Don’t you find, though, that those who have joy, whether Christian or not, have a sense of wonder and thankfulness about life? It’s not so much an “attitude of gratitude” but a real aspect of their hearts…..almost a childlikeness that hasn’t been thwarted.

  4. K_Steinmann says:

    Yes, that is true of those who strive to live fully in the world in general. Because they are not trying to be somewhere else they are able to appreciate what they see around them in a similar way to a young child who is just beginning to savor the world. The interplay of these experiences, emotions and attitudes (if emotion and attitude are even the right words) is very difficult to describe in language. We speak of them linearally (I’m not certain that is a word, illustrating the difficulty) when in reality the phenomenon (lifestyle) is really simultaneous. Can we untangle which comes first? I’m not sure.

    What we do know is that all is grace, all is the healing of the world and the returning of us to what we were meant to be…Eucharistic living is our high calling and our great privilege…K

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