I have been noticing that the word “joy” appears in the most interesting places at this time of year. I have seen it boldly hanging over my head in a packed mall. I have seen it as part of seasonal commercials for all types of products, and I have even seen it in neon lights at a local gas station. Yet, there is little connection between the meaning of joy and the way it appears.
But, perhaps its ubiquitous nature at this time of year can be a reminder of the true gift of joy available to each of us, and to those around us, without any need to go anywhere or get anything. In fact, in my experience, joy is most often completely an “inside job.”
What brings you joy? Taking a few moments to reflect on this question is time well spent. The feelings in the body, mind and heart that you experience when you are joyful is one of the best parts of being human. And our mindfulness practice supports our inquiry and helps us to see what may be blocking our experience of joy. We know that luxury possessions, promotions and achievements may bring moments of happiness, but not lasting joy. So, what brings you joy? And what about your capacity to bring joy to others?
I once heard someone say that the ancient Egyptians believed that you were asked two questions by the gods when you died. The first question was “Did you find joy in your life?” The second question was “Did your life bring joy to others?’ In this season, with its many superficial reminders of joy, perhaps you will make some time to answer these two questions.
You may find that they really aren’t two separate questions at all.