The feeling of joy is something that has been overly lacking in my life for a number of years now. I’ve given it my all to cultivate even a small slice of it, yet the feeling continues to elude me. Sure, I’ve had plenty of moments of happiness along the way, especially when engaging in something fun, but happiness isn’t joy.
Sure, I can eat a scoop of ice cream and get a little happiness from it, but usually not joy. I can play a game of mini-golf and get a little happiness from it as well, but still not feel any joy. I can even take an exotic vacation somewhere or buy a new car or move into a new home or have the most incredible intimacy with my partner and get temporary happiness from each of them, but rarely have I ever felt joy from any of those things.
Frankly, joy has never seemed to be something I’m able to cultivate by any of my own actions. Rather, it seems to be something that spontaneously occurs and when it does, it feels as if everything is happening exactly as it’s meant to in my life and that I’m at total peace and contentment with myself. To put it in a slightly different way, when joy shows up, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing, where I’m at, or what state of health I’m in, I just get this sense of exuberance about life itself and have an incredible desire to help people, to show as much love as I can to anyone I come in contact with, and generally feel close to God while the feeling remains present.
I’m not sure why I haven’t felt joy in so long. I used to think my level of pain was blocking me from feeling it, yet the last time joy suddenly showed up in my life, my body was hurting pretty bad, so I had to accept that wasn’t it. Then I started to think that maybe if I started reaching out and helping others more frequently, I’d have more joy show up in my life. But that didn’t work either, as I began to feel like I was helping others for the wrong reason and became more frustrated than uplifted from doing it. Most recently, I’ve begun to think that maybe joy comes from some Higher Source and that maybe there are times it’s pulled from our lives to strengthen our faith and resolve.
Whatever the reason joy continues to elude me, I’ve come to accept the best thing I can do is engage in activities that can at least bring me some peace and contentment in life, which are the byproducts of having joy itself. Ironically, my sponsor just last week asked me to write a list of things down that I can do by myself that tend to bring me those two feelings. So, here are eleven things that I came up with.
- Working on complex puzzles.
- Coloring in adult coloring books.
- Working in the garden.
- Sitting in a park by the water.
- Watching uplifting movies in the theater.
- Watching uplifting shows on television.
- Taking late night drives in my car while listening to tranquil music.
- Playing mini-golf.
- Writing articles for my blog.
- Reading YA science fiction or fantasy novels.
I honestly wish I could have come up with more, but sadly, this was all I could think of. Regardless, each of these things are activities I try to do on a regular basis, with maybe the exception of reading novels, as I haven’t picked up one in a good, long, while.
Nevertheless, in lieu of being unsuccessful in all my attempts to create any joy, I continue to do the best I can to cultivate the byproducts of it, that being peace and contentment. And while they don’t seem to fill the hole within me that only joy seems to be able to replenish, they do at least help me to keep going for another day…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson