Do you know why we should invest in the knowledge of joy? Because it is a very potent ally! The desire to live is far stronger than the pain of living.
All humans know what joy is, because everyone has experienced moments of joy. But it is precisely because it “happens to us” that we believe it is something we experience for no precise reason. Those moments, though, illuminate our lives and reveal our reason for living. Sometimes they become so important, they lead to a strong desire for change.
The experience of joy can inspire some people to a strong desire for change as well as an increase in their self-care. In others, it can, due to its rare and fleeting quality, to retain that it is an illusion rather than a reality. Personally, I do not believe that difficulties can ever completely efface the pleasure of living; the desire to live is stronger than the pain of living: “This could be because life desires life?” Even in a suicidal person a desire for life can be found. The desire (de-sider = from the stars, something which transcends) for happiness is something that fills man’s being.
Let us set our ideas straight:
1) What exactly is joy?
What is joy besides its cultural, temporal and emotional connotations? Joy is that thing we have lost, which we are walking towards, that produces a pungent sense of longing in us, a nostalgia within us: a thirst for infinity? The human being is needy and leans towards the fulfillment of happiness, because desire is a deeply human factor.
Joy is a feeling that explodes inside us: pulsating, propulsive and highly propagable. Joy could be defined as the nascent state of happiness, which identifies itself with a sense of wonder.
2) What is happiness?
Happiness is that thing which we continually lean towards in our being in the world; it is the prolongation of joy, without an end. The thirst of the Beyond that inhabits us and weaves us together is the origin and profound essence of joy. Joy, above and beyond the single episode, can it become an inner attitude? This definition of joy is born from the ability to see beyond, from knowing how to grasp and value spaces in which a person can express themselves and respond with enthusiasm (en-theos = a God within us) to the solicitations of the real, re-vealing in this way one’s own personality. He who teaches himself joy wants to become a lover of the infinite shades of life, an attentive observer, a listener who values vital stimuli.
An angst, a restlessness, that is a symptom of the presence of the infinite that lies within mankind.
3) What do we have to guard ourselves against in order to retain it and not have it stolen away from us?
The media puts bad news on display, everything that is tragic and linked to the horrific. While the opposite is also being manifested, the positive is overlooked with the idea that nobody is interested in good news. We have fallen into the trap of the “anti-smile” the industry of gloom and the first to pay for this are our youth. And then we wonder why violence is taking over the lives of our seemingly innocent young people. Could it be because they have become accustomed not to the smile but to the frown of bitterness and resentment? We have to accentuate the positive, lend it value, reeducate our youth to the importance of celebration, the celebration of the things that make us feel good.
Narcissistic pleasure is self-centered; it does not allow for a profound meeting of persons, creative dialogue with the other; it is a clash of egoism. Life remains imprisoned by the “I” trap, the “I” which is too busy satisfying itself. If this “I” does not open itself up to the path of the greater joy of life it will remain an opaque shadow, forever closed, boringly repetitive and blocked.
4) What are the steps to take for growth?
Man grows and develops himself psychologically when it passes from the “I” reasoning to the “You” reasoning; from the principle of pleasure to the principle of reality. From “Me” to “You”, from “You” to “Us”, from “Us” to the “Real”, from the “Real” to the “True Values” from the “True Values” to the “Absolute Other”, these are all different levels that are reached by transcending the physical law of the center of gravity.
A good humor prayer to invoke joy
“Lord, grant me a good digestion and even something to digest.
Grant me a healthy body and the good humor necessary in order to maintain it.
Grant me, Lord, a simple soul that knows how to treasure
All that is good and that fears not evil
But rather always finds the way to put things back in order.
Grant me a soul that does not know boredom, grumbling, sighs, laments, and do not allow me to become excessively bitter
by that overly encumbering thing called “me”.
Grant me, Lord, a good sense of humor.
Grant me the grace to understand a joke in order to discover the joy in life
And to be able to share some with others too.
Amen.” (Thomas More)