the gift of joy

The gift of joy… It’s not what you’ve been told

The gift of joy is a gift we all hope to receive. We imagine joy arriving on the doorstep of our lives like a big glorious immaculately wrapped package with a gigantic bow.  We envision days filled with flow (and maybe a few flowers) and flights of fancy – maybe along with a few flowers.

It can seem like only the lucky few manage to experience the gift of joy while the rest of us feel stuck in the drudgery of life. We may swing between hoping we stumble upon joy and searching for it. 

If we’re honest we may even occasionally fear joy will never find us. We wonder if we’ve ever felt joy and if in fact it may not be in the cards for us.

The difference between the gift of joy and happiness

Have you ever considered the difference between joy and happiness? Ask people what they want in life and many will answer “I just want to be happy.” Ok, great! Sounds good enough. But, naturally another question comes right behind that one… “what will make me happy?”

Here’s where things start to go off the rails. When asked “what will make me happy?” the vast majority of people have a list of achievements (“I deserve that promotion.”), acquisitions (“A bigger house will make all the difference.” and accomplishments (“If I could just lose 10 pounds..”). All things that lay outside ourselves.

Here’s what most miss…. Nothing will fill the hole where your Soul belongs. Meaning, there’s nothing outside ourselves that will actually make us happy – and most definitely these things will not bring us long term sustainable joy. 

So, what is the difference between the gift of joy and happiness? Frankly, happiness is a mood. It’s fleeting and transient. It’s inconsistent and unpredictable. Joy on the other hand is a pervasive attitude and approach to life.

So what is joy?

With clarity on the distinction of happiness, we are now clear to understand what is joy and what joy is not. In the end, we may find we’ve been looking for the wrong thing this whole time. But first let’s create a few more distinctions around joy.

Joy isn’t simply a mood.

Joy isn’t something we strive for.

Joy isn’t something we can chase.

Joy isn’t found out “there.”

Joy isn’t the same for everyone. 

Joy is something we find within ourselves.

Joy is independent of circumstances.

Joy is completely unique to each individual.

Joy is only found in the here and now.

Joy is the result of deep alignment and resonance with our Soul.

Common ways we block joy

Before we can understand our own journey to joy, it’s useful to consider the common ways we block joy. It’s hard to imagine we’d do that to ourselves but our misconceptions about what joy is and how to find it contribute to us not being able to access the gift of joy that is actually close at hand. 

Here are some of the most common ways we block joy:

  • Futuring – When we tell ourselves that our lives will begin “when…” we are futuring. We inadvertently block our joy when we project into an imagined future where everything will be lined up. Where we can relax and enjoy life. The trouble is joy doesn’t live out there. It lives here in the present moment.
  • Chasing – We’ve all known people (we may have even been one of them) who are in constant motion. Always onto the next thing. Seemingly unable to sit still. In this state of perpetual motion, we are chasing ourselves through life, moving too fast to stop and smell the roses as they say.  
  • Expecting – When you dream of joy, what do you imagine? What life circumstances do you believe have to be in place for you to experience joy? Believe it or not, these expectations may be exactly what’s keeping you from experiencing joy where you are right now. What joy will look like for you may ultimately surprise you. Let go of all the perceived requirements that have been put in place – consciously or unconsciously – before you give yourself the gift of joy. 
  • Denying – This unfortunate way we block joy comes in two forms. The most obvious is a refusal to look at what’s good in our lives. Said another way, we overly focus on what we see is not working or not the way we want it to be. Yet almost no one’s life is a wholesale disappointment when we take an honest inventory. The other more tragic version of this stems from denying ourselves joy due the subconscious belief that we don’t deserve it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Joy is our most natural state.
  • Pursuing – This one’s tough. After all, this is an article on the gift of joy. Aren’t we after joy? Isn’t that a pursuit? Well, it turns out much like trying to catch a dog that doesn’t want to be caught, we have to approach joy in a specific way for it to reveal its gifts to us. Joy is something you receive, not something you can pursue. 

How to find joy on your journey

One final question remains: How to find joy? While most of the world is going after joy head on, what we know is joy is the byproduct of purposeful living, full expression and deep resonance with your Soul. Any other path you take to Joy is likely to be short lived. 

As with most things in life it’s best to hold joy as a journey. Be careful not to judge any given moment as your final destination. You’re still here, so it’s clearly not. Instead the best practice for how to find joy on your journey is to cultivate your connection with yourself and your Soul first.

Find those moments in your day to let joy in. It doesn’t have to be big. Take a moment to feel the sun on your face. Share a genuine smile with a stranger. Give yourself an extra few minutes to luxuriate in something you love. The greatest joy can (and ought to) be found in the simple things as well as the big things.

Most importantly, remember, joy doesn’t lay in another place or another person. It lies in deep purpose and presence. You won’t find joy prepackaged in modeling someone else’s life. You’ll find it by fully submerging yourself in your own.

Joy is one of what we refer to at Divine Navigation as “the big five” – Peace, Love, Joy, Oneness and Freedom. The Big 5 are what we all experience when we are in divine alignment with our Soul. 

Joy is accessible through our full soul expression. It is predictable and, dare I say, guaranteed, when we are living as who we were designed to be. It is through your specific Soul’s Loving heart, with a Peaceful mind, that makes way for the Freedom to take action in alignment with yourself where you will connect with your unique expression of the Oneness of all that ultimately delivers us to the doorstep of Joy.