“Joy is a hard sell” I heard myself telling Ben Mack who is, among other things, a brilliant guy with specialties in magic and marketing. We were talking about defining what I offer people. In the context of this newsletter the tagline, “Health, power, and joy for smart women”, is strong, I think, until one gets to the word joy.
What does that word mean to my readers and potential clients? Do people think Hallmark cards, not real life, when they see “joy”? Is “joy” too rare, too fleeting in the emotional lexicon to be meaningful here? By the way, Ben agreed. So why am I talking about it? Because I believe in the concept defined in many dictionaries as, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; a state of happiness or felicity.” And who doesn’t want more of that in their lives?
Imagine my delight and felicity when I came upon an article titled, “Taking a Chance on Joy” in this month’s Oprah magazine. Wow, if Oprah can allot two pages to the subject then maybe I’m not so far out in left field.
The author, Roger Housden, is no greeting card craftsman, but if he was I’d buy the whole lot. He has ten or more bold, sometimes humorous, always elegant books published on the subjects we all live; relationships, love, passion, despair. He theorizes, and I concur, that joy and even happiness take a back seat to sorrow and despair because the latter seem more serious. “Happy isn’t so interesting to talk about as sad, ” he writes, “(which means we may not be so interesting either).”
“Look around you unrealistic woman you” the reader cries. Life is challenging, bad things happen to good people, the rich get richer while the poor don’t, and don’t forget the many (unrealistic) complaints we have with ourselves. “We must take these things seriously and do something” she adds. Being one with your inner bluebird does not a better world make! Or does it?
Housden answers this beautifully when he writes, “Joy, or delight, is weightless, as light as air; there’s not so much to say about it. You communicate it less in words than by a savor you leave in the air. Why all the guilt or embarrassment about feeling the full measure and beauty of our own aliveness?”
Just reading those words is soothing. Imagine if we felt free enough to allow joy and happiness to bubble up unfiltered through the detritus of our day to day. Our lives could become less about the boulders along the path and more about the wonder of our perfection and thanks that we are on the path as opposed to six feet under it. If I’m getting too woo-woo for you I make no apology. I have taken your joy on as a part of my mission and as such I will wax poetic and ecstatic and remind you that this stuff is important. In fact, studies too long to quote here but, trust me, I’ve read them, can prove a link between happiness or “positive states of emotion” to better health, greater wealth, stronger community support, and better personal relationships.
The bottom line is this: happiness and its sibling joy are not some out-there feelings we will “get” once we annihilate fear, pain, and those others whose purpose on earth it seems is to annoy us. Happiness and joy coexist in us alongside of annoyance, resentment, and sadness. They are our natural state of being. All of our many feelings are important and serve a purpose. And thanks be that we can choose what we will feel in any moment. Why not allow what’s natural? It’s not going to take a big search to “find” joy or happiness. It’s going to take practice to choose them.
We have all been annoyed and annoying. I don’t know a soul who can say they have never felt pain, nor a success story that is told without mention of fear. So why not acknowledge these things and these people, and focus instead on something delicious and disarming like the memory of your best holiday ever. Turn on your favorite music, pet the cat and feel the connection to that unconditional love-or maybe you should pet the dog for that, but you get my point.
This season Joy is the buzzword in as many languages as you can imagine. We joyfully gather together around tradition, customs, and food. The word can be found in cards, on signs, and in the carols some will sing. This year maybe you’ll see more than just the word. Maybe something exceptionally good or satisfying is waiting for your attention. You don’t have to look far.
What I’m hoping is that at this time of year at least, joy can be an easy sell, and what I’m selling is something lasting, of great value, and as near as you allow it to be.