I’m not a naturally joy-filled person. I brood, and I ruminate, and I often see the glass as half-empty. I don’t necessarily consider this a defect (the world benefits from its pessimists and critics), but I do suspect that I might miss out on some really beautiful moments if I don’t make an effort to cultivate more joy in my life.
So, what does “cultivating joy” look like for me? Part of it is naming the things that I’m grateful for. Part of it is allowing the rare things that cause me to break out into spontaneous joy to happen more frequently. My husband discovered at random that I can’t help belting out the lyrics of Rockin’ Robin when I hear the tune, so sometimes when he knows I need cheering up he’ll hum it. It doesn’t take long til I’m giddily “hoppin’ and boppin’ and singing” along.
I cannot be dependent on Rockin’ Robin to bring me joy every day—it would probably lose its charm after a while. Maybe a regular infusion of various things that cause me great happiness would contribute to additional joy. My joy board seems to be dominated by cute little animals, my favorite little kids, and upbeat music. So perhaps I can get myself a pet, or find a way to spend time with the long-distance kiddos who call me Auntie, or listen to more major chord music than the same old contemporary singer-songwriter music with minor chords that I usually listen to on Pandora. I’m not getting rid of it altogether; just mixing it up a little.
While I do believe that true joy cannot be manufactured and that it rather comes from deep within, I also believe that outer behaviors can influence our thoughts and feelings, and in turn our deeper beliefs and states of mind.
Small changes have the potential to cultivate great joy.
May you and I find the joy that comes from without and from within, both on the holy days set aside for such joy, and all the ordinary days in between.