How to Find Your Way to Joy
Life would be easier if joy was a cupcake we could buy whenever we got a craving for something sweet. But I compare it more to a hidden street, not listed on any map – one that seems to change location from one day to the next. It’s always there, but it’s not always easy to find. One day it seems simple enough and the next, you search and search, up and down dead ends and alleys, never really finding your way there.
In the city of Boston, there’s an actual street named Joy. I stood by the sign, in the pouring rain marveling at the synchronicity of being on day one of a vacation in a part of the country I’d longed to visit. Only three short hours off the flight, I was still high on being free in a city I didn’t know. Despite the dripping eaves and rain-puddled sidewalks, I felt light as a feather.
My ideas about joy have definitely changed over time. Fifteen years ago, I thought joy was just a cool way of saying “be happy” at Christmastime… an expression… a little like “peace on earth,” a nice pie in the sky idea that didn’t hold much weight the other 11 months of the year.
But over time I came to learn that joy and happy are two totally different things.
Happy is that momentary feeling that comes and goes; for example when you get a raise, fall in love, or win the lottery. Happy occurs when external circumstances fall into place and in your favor. All along, that is what I thought I wanted, but I had no control over how to make it happen. It was so frustrating!!
I was searching for “happiness,” which I found in brief moments like everyone else, but it wasn’t sustaining or fulfilling. That’s when I went looking for something better.
What if joy was the thing missing from my life?
Initially, joy might be something that we stumble upon. We may take a miscalculated turn down an unfamiliar road and find ourselves surrounded by a surprising new feeling called joy. For me that happened when I took a ballroom dance class to complete an elective credit in college. I hadn’t danced in years, but I fell instantly head over heels in love with the person I was when I was dancing.
I couldn’t explain it, but I found one small alleyway that led me back to joy, most of the time, but not always.
Dance worked for me because while I was at it, other concerns seemed to fade from my awareness. That is until I left the dance floor when they would return once again. I could find my way to the street of joy. I could feel it like warm beach sand under my toes for a while, but it wasn’t my neighborhood. It wasn’t my home. How could I keep that feeling when I was really just a foreigner, taking advantage of the amazing views whenever I was in town?
Unlike happiness, joy is a state of being we have to choose even when things aren’t going our way. Joy is when we choose to look on the bright side and stay positive even in the midst of challenging times. We can choose joy when we call on gratitude in place of anger, frustration or defeat. Joy is the result of allowing our soul to lead us to the best version of ourselves. It fills us with trust and courage when we choose it as our banner.
A year and a half ago, I made a choice to leave a full-time salaried position to write books and to share what I know about empowerment and passionate living. What I didn’t know was how I was going to make it financially. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to turn my ideas into a living, but I made up my mind to do whatever it takes to keep knocking on doors and to practice staying as positive as I could while I was at it.
I realized recently that living in joy is kind of the same as living in passion and purpose. You have to figure it out as you go and no one knows the way to your specific joy. Learning how to get there takes practice and commitment. Some days it will seem impossible, as if it’s only a nice idea. And other days when you’ve tapped into the flow of joy, you’ll feel it dancing up and down your skin like electricity.
Joy is the soul’s love language. When it is present, that’s when you know you’re allowing the soul to shine. When you’re honoring your spirit and living authentically, you can feel it strongest and best.
So if you’re in that place of wanting more joy in your life, even though it seems hard to find, wanting it is enough. You’ll find your way there. And once you’ve found the path that leads you to joy, you’ll begin to memorize the way back. Over time and as you visit more often, you’ll begin to feel as if you could find your way blindfolded.
When do you feel joy pouring forth from your soul?
Till next time…
In Light and Love, Tracy