The Origin of Joy: What Happened?
What happened? Well, I think we have lost sight of what joy is, to some extent. We search for joy all around us, living in a state of frustration because the world is not giving us what we need, when really, Joy is not something to be found but something to be realized within.
For most of my life, I associated joy and happiness as one and the same; they were synonymous to the best of my knowledge. But what I recently learned is that happiness and joy are, in fact, not the same, and the way that these two concepts are used interchangeably, as our world continues to do, has made it difficult to truly know one from the other.
Here is the breakdown:
Happiness is a feeling, typically provoked by something that happens to us. Happiness is ultimately an external experience and lasts temporarily.
Joy, on the other hand, is a choice. Joy is a conscious commitment we make to embody enjoyment, gratitude, inner peace, and/or contentment for what exists in the present moment. Presence is key. Joy is a place inside each of us, a state of being, acting as a reservoir, always present if we choose to access its beauty and energizing power.
“Joy is the dynamic aspect of Being.” – Eckhart Tolle
If joy is inside all of us and is solely an aspect of Being, it would make sense that joy has existed for as long as humans have existed. The origin of joy lies within the origin of humanity. But then I wonder, why does it seem we are experiencing less and less joy in our current culture? Where is the joy in depression rates spiking, suicide numbers climbing, and epidemics like obesity, heart disease, and cancer as common diagnoses? What happened?
The evolution of technology and industrial advancements have had an impact on the decline in joy that we perceive around the world. With digital technology steadily blending itself into the human experience, people are constantly being fed images of what a “joyful” life should look like through TV shows, commercials, advertisements, social media influencers, etc.
Joy is disguised everywhere as something we should be looking for outside of ourselves, so what do we do? We acquire all of the ingredients that we’ve been told will create a perfect recipe for a joyful life. We experience happiness, but only for a moment in time. Many of us soon return to states of frustration, irritation, stress, and depression even though we have acquired the things that have been advertised to us as JOY. Then where is the joy?
From the outside, many people seem to have everything they could possibly need! But what about on the inside?
Put simply, joy is something we will never obtain out in the world. Joy is not found in the bigger, better, shinier, and sparklier things IF the intention is to achieve joy from acquiring these things. Joy is not a means to an end. These aspects of life can inspire great amounts of happiness, but they don’t actually bring JOY. We bring joy into these aspects of life. We are the origin of joy.
“Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into this world from deep within you.” – Eckhart Tolle
When I first read this quote from Eckhart Tolle’s book, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,” I had to re-read it multiple times. The statement, “Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into this world from deep within you,” reframed my understanding of joy, especially in the materialistic, consumeristic world we live in.
We have lost sight of Joy’s true essence and origin, and I believe that is why we are looking for it in all the wrong places, thus, experiencing higher levels of undesirable life situations and dangerous health conditions. Joy is an internal experience, not an external experience. Joy is being present and enjoying what you have, what you do, and all that is. The world does not provide Joy to us, we provide Joy to the world.
Joy is in everyone; it’s international!
There are studies conducted such as the “World Happiness Report” and “Happy Planet Index” which both measure happiness across the world based on the Gallup World Poll, which is the most comprehensive and farthest-reaching survey of the world, tracking human development worldwide. The World Happiness Report gathers its research based on six main factors, including levels of GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and corruption. The Happy Planet Index gathers its research based on wellbeing, life expectancy, inequality of outcomes, and ecological footprint. Observing the data from all categories, the Nordic countries typically rank in the top ten out of all countries in the world, according to the 2020 World Happiness Report.
These reports focus mostly on external circumstances and conditions of living which equate to certain levels of happiness. This caught my attention! If I move to Copenhagen, Denmark will I be happier, more joyful? If my goal to move to Copenhagen was to experience a happier life, moving would be a means to an end. Going where happiness is said to be will not make me more joyful. Why? Because Joy is an internal experience and happiness is an external experience.
You don’t have to move to the Nordic countries to experience joy. You can travel anywhere in the world and bring your joy with you, because you have the power to allow joy to flow into all that you do, be it in luxurious travel, buying a new car, a beautiful home, designer clothing, or any material goods. Joy flows in the present moment, in true enjoyment of all that is.
Joy is not something to be found or achieved, but something to be realized and chosen.
This is a movement, as people become aware of their own power to cultivate this inner joyous state of being that exists within themselves. This is going on all around the world as more and more people begin to truly realize and distinguish Joy from Happiness. We are remembering, collectively, together, that Joy is our choice and no one can take that away from us.
Happiness does not cause joy, but happiness is an effect of being in a joyous state.
Internationally acclaimed psychologist, author, and survivor of the Holocaust, Edith Eger, said, “Today, I have a joy that is within me that I cherish so much because I don’t have to wait for anything to come from the outside.”
You are the origin of Joy. Know it, believe it, feel it, allow it.
Article originally posted on Joyley.com