When I reflect on joy in my own life, a few thoughts come to mind.
First, it is not always easy to be joyful, particularly when things are not going your way. At times, being joyful takes a lot of work. This is true if we let personal and professional responsibilities get the best of us. Students and colleagues might regularly hear me say, “I’m an optimist by nature” in my office or the classroom. I associate this with being joyful too. I could say, “I’m joyful by nature” as a way of reminding myself and others that I choose this emotion or feeling, as it is a more comfortable and peaceful state to be in. I believe that we can choose joy, over other emotions and feelings.
Second, we should all seek out activities that bring us joy. I believe that this is helpful as a way of grounding us and helping us find a place of comfort and peace. For me that comes with reading books. I love to read each night (and other occasions when I can) as a way clearing my mind; escaping from the business of the day; and to explore new thoughts and ideas. This brings me short moments of joy, as I am generally in a comfortable and restful state when reading and am able to find joy as a result.
Lastly, and particularly during this holiday season, I think we should help others to find joy in their lives. This is true for those who may be struggling in some way with grief, loss, loneliness, hardships or despair. Through simple acts we can bring joy to others. It may be as small as striking up a conversation with someone, leaving a thank you note, or assisting others in some small way. I will continue to commit to finding joy for myself and others and I hope you will join me in this commitment.