Joy is a positive feeling we can experience in many situations, and it is a feeling we would like to experience often. When people speak of a joy of life, joie de vivre in French, they describe a joy that is not limited or bound to a specific situation. It is enjoying life for itself. So, one may ask as long as one is alive, why not enjoy life for what it is? One possible answer is that we are often so busy with details that we forget to enjoy life itself. The problem is not the focus on details, because one can find tremendous joy in a task and feel very alive at the same time. It is rather that we often tend to focus on tasks that are neither meaningful nor relevant to us if we are honest with ourselves. So, the first step to finding joy is honesty with oneself and openness to whatever answers one may find.
When you are working on something that is really meaningful to you and where you feel competent, you can experience joy. It is part of the state which has also been called ‘flow’. But there are also many other situations where you can experience joy. Even if it is something new, you can experience joy. In this case, the feeling of joy may also be linked with a mental image you have about the future. Openness and creativity can support us in experiencing more joy in life. Sometimes, just visualising something can create greater joy. It can also be part of a memory you relive before your mind’s screen.
The time axis plays a role in the experience of joy. What if you just want to experience joy in this very moment? Our joy may sometimes seem to depend on the past or the future, and it may be difficult to experience joy when it matters most, in the now. An answer to that may be that you feel there is still unfinished business in the past, which will e carried over in the future so that both the past and the future seem incomplete. However, this could lead to a potentially infinite series of feeling incomplete in something. Accepting that life is work in progress may help to break a vicious cycle. On the other hand, it is important again to focus on what is really relevant and meaningful to you and aligns with your true needs, values and aspirations. You may feel incomplete in something that is not really important to you. It may not even be important to someone else, but it may be blocking an experience of everyday joy.
Sometimes the hardest part may be to just accept ourselves, which is an important requirement towards experiencing joy unconditionally. And why it might be hard to accept ourselves unconditionally is because we may not know enough about ourselves. Connecting with ourselves plays an important role in finding greater joy, and this is where psychotherapy, meditation, and many other approaches can be helpful. Very basically, connecting with oneself is about good communication with myself, which can then also be reflected in better communication with the world around me. Crucial is is to discover the part inside ourselves that is changing little, and which is also reflected in our values, needs, and aspirations. We constantly develop and evolve, so that what we do in the world is changing, but what is fundamentally important to us changes little.
Don’t change who you are. Change how you communicate. We can always work on ourselves, but the capacity for joy does not depend on becoming a different person, it should be centred on feeling joy as who we are. Unfortunately, many people try to change themselves rather than changing how they interact with themselves and others, which is what is causing them the real grief. By doing so, they distort any interaction between themselves and others, as well as with themselves, even more. Psychotherapy focuses on internal and external communication and can help to better connect, and as a consequence experience more joy.
It can help to try things differently. Just by doing something a little different, communicating a little differently, one can probe what can be helpful. As long as one approaches it with an open and welcoming attitude, experimenting with the little strategies one uses in daily life can be invaluable to increase the overall satisfaction in daily life. Often, changing how we do something or doing something in a new way, rather than stopping one thing completely and starting from scratch, can increase the level of joy we experience.
Experiencing joy is also related to gratitude. When we are grateful we are open joyful. You may want to experiment with gratitude, starting with easy situations and working your way up. We have to acknowledge that there is much we don’t know. So, even if something seems a negative at the moment, once we know more about it, it may actually be a benefit. You can always have more, but what you have at the moment may actually be the things you truly need and value. We may feel that we need something else, but if we don’t value it as much, it may not add much to our satisfaction in life.
Experiencing joy can happen with other people, but it can also often be going your own way. There are so many ways out there, which we could follow, so much to achieve, so much to see. But I don’t have to try them all. If I connect with myself and explore my true needs, values, and aspirations, the ones that are really my own, I can already strike off several possible paths from the list. And whatever remains may lead me different places, but they will probably give me similar levels of satisfaction and enjoyment.
I have seen many people in jobs or relationships where they could not experience any joy. And it is sad because this is lost time, in which one could improve oneself and the world. It usually goes back to the same problem, a fear to connect with oneself and the world to find those true needs, values, and aspirations that lead to joy and happiness. We can live in a much happier world if we take the moment to think about and feel what is truly important and what is not.
© 2021 Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All Rights Reserved. For more articles, see www.askdrjonathan.com. To contact me, please see www.jonathanhaverkampf.com or www.jonathanhaverkampf.ie. I am also a guest on www.wordnets.com. These are just my thoughts. I may be wrong.