Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The Zen of Joy
There is a difference in the way I think of happiness and joy. Happiness refers to a current state of mind. It can be intense, but it can also be fleeting; I am happy in this moment, sad in the next. It relates to mood, to circumstances and conditions. Joy, on the other hand, reminds me of an undercurrent of electricity. It may not be quite so obvious, but it is constantly running behind the scenes, keeping things in kilter. One can be quite sorrowful in the particular moment, but still experience joy as the basic foundation of his or her life.
Joy comes, I believe, from acceptance of things as they are. I don't mean to imply that one cannot work for change. There is a moral mandate to work to improve our world, if not for our individual good, then for the good of all. Rather, joy is more of a "bloom where you're planted" type of emotion. Each moment, when lived in the moment, invites us to experience both joy and contentment. The opportunities are endless, although often unseen or overlooked. When one worries about what might have been, it inhibits a sense of joy. But when one experiences the gifts of the present moment, joy abounds.