Apparently J is a difficult letter – and I chose a difficult word, too – because this is the third time now that I have sat in front of the computer trying to figure out what to say. How to describe joy, what makes it different from happiness or optimism (or how it’s the same, even), how it applies to my life… I know it does, but I can’t seem to find the words. I would describe myself as a joyful person. Not always happy, but always joyful (or very nearly so). I know lots of other people I would also describe as joyful. But why? and how do we get to be that way?…
So I direct you to an essay by Clancy Cross, posted on Zig Ziglar’s site. (Yay for Google!) If poor formatting bothers you, you may want to skip it, because it’s difficult to read, but well worth it if you can take the time.
Here is a very short excerpt, and the core of the article to me:
Compared with happiness, joy can be stronger, more enduring, and more stable. Joy is rooted in the positive feelings we have toward others, increasing as the quality of our relationships increase. It inspires our most unselfish desires. In other words, joy redirects our inward focus toward others.“Who is the happiest of men? He who can appreciate another’s merit, and can enjoy another’s pleasure as if it were his own.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German author, philosopher.
And one last thought, on the kind of person I aspire to be:
“There are souls in this world who have the gift of finding joy everywhere, and leaving it behind them when they go.” ― Frederick William Faber