Saturday, July 25, 2020

Building Joy

Global pandemic, impending recession, protests in the street, violence, hate, and anger everywhere - in a world gone mad, is happiness even possible?   When increasing levels of stress, anxiety, and depression are the natural consequence of uncertainty, unrest, and disquiet, is happiness possible?  When so many people are suffering on so many levels, it almost feels wrong to feel happy, if happiness is even possible.

Joy may be a better option.  It has been suggested that happiness occurs at the macro level - "I am happy in my work, relationships, home, with the state of the world " - and therefore is harder to achieve and sustain.  Joy, however, is found in the little moments.   Joy is more sensory in nature.  Smelling flowers, petting kittens, listening to birdsong or hearing a child's laughter - the little delights that occur everyday.  This "bottom up" approach to building joy - noticing, appreciating, reveling in, and recalling these little moments - can, in fact, lead to happiness.  A happiness rooted in the here and now, choosing to be satisfied with what you have rather than yearning for more, becoming more accepting of life's trials, and approaching conflict from a calm and more reasoned perspective.

Joy, it has been argued, is better than happiness.  And, in a world gone mad, our well-being depends on the belief that little moments of joy are still possible.

Listen to Ingrid Fetell Lee's TED talk on "How To Notice and Build Joy Into Your Life."