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  • Writer's pictureEsther Brownwood

Seriously, joy?


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1a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight

2: a state of happiness or felicity : bliss

3: a source or cause of delight


joyed; joying; joys

intransitive verb

: to experience great pleasure or delight : rejoice

Dear Friends,

While sitting in meditation, I came across a realization that I’ve had before. It’s strange and wonderful to me that we can rediscover things, yet they can still feel brand new. What I came to understand is that life is all about joy. After all, our inherent birthright is to be joyful.

Joy is a word that I feel I do not use often enough. It strikes me in different ways, because number one: it is a part of my Grandmother’s name; and two: why wouldn’t I use a word for an emotion that is felt every day?

Of course, the parallel isn’t lost on me. I don’t use the word joy a lot, because I don’t often mindfully feel it. As a species we have evolved to “see” the negative. We had to be ready for the threat to come at us at any given moment. Even though we are not facing the same threats as our ancestors did, we’re still stuck dwelling on the dangers.

The word joy can feel like such an elusive term, reserved only for special occasions.

In my meditative state, I rediscovered that joy is not just something that comes because you accomplished something, or got something you wanted.

Joy is available to us in every moment, in every interaction, and observation. Joy is opening your eyes, watching the birds fly through your window, feeling water rushing over your skin, seeing a big smile, or simply being.

Appreciating life as it is. For all its pain and sadness and negativity, it is still all we have.

Joy is a lens we can put on at any time. And though it doesn’t always feel available to us, I promise you it is. It is recognizing the blessing of life itself, even if there are negative emotions underneath. In fact, it is the ability to be thankful even for the negativity, because that too is just another expression of this life.

How wonderful is it to be alive in this world, in this time, with these people.

It is a miracle that we get to exist at all, and all the over-complication of : Do I deserve this? Have I done enough? What next?

These questions and doubts are exactly the things that limit our experience of joy. Trust me, you deserve to feel joy in every single moment, for no special reason, except that you are.

I’ve realized I can be sad yet and still joyful, I can be angry and joyful, I can hurt and yet be joyful if there is a part of me tapped into the luxury of life itself.

In a culture where information is currency and being “serious” is the baseline. Learning to play, have fun, reconnect to your innocence, and to the present moment is instrumental to survival. We often look down on these qualities as if they are a waste of time. From the perspective of time, we couldn’t be further off. Tomorrow is not promised. Rationalizing joy away from your life will not help you be more successful; it will only make the road you’re on even harder.

Life is too short to not let yourself be silly, to not savor every flavor of sweetness that comes

your way, to not believe in romance, and it’s definitely too short to shy away from joy.

So my challenge for you today is: Observe joy in nature and in the people around you, in strangers and friends alike. We are all living in vast states of experiences that can change at any given moment. Allow the joy of others to infect you, and let your own joy spread outwards in turn.

I hope this message is a welcome reminder on the journey. Never forget: I love you.

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