Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Fruits of Joy

Happiness is…. A peanut butter and jam sandwich, but not just any peanut butter and jam. It has to be natural Krema peanut butter from my uncle’s company and homemade jam from my mom. Happiness is sunrises over the reservoir in Central Park, running the loop in record time, a homemade chocolate chip cookie just out of the oven, a trip to Prague with my sister and best friend, sunshine and warmer weather after weeks of freezing temperatures. Happiness is running 18 miles with relatively little pain, walking through the snow covered winter wonderland this city becomes after a big storm, listening to jazz in the park on a warm summer day, watching a movie on the pier on Wednesday nights, laughing with my roommates late at night. Happiness is York Peppermint Patties, Junior Mints, not waiting for the 1 train and catching an express train, finding a new pair of shoes, jeans that fit, discovering a new cd, getting tickets to the Deathcab concert, having Charlie and Serdar know me when I walk into Bella Vita for a slice of pizza, paying $7 for a huge portion of penne alla vodka from Vinny’s, feeling energized every morning because I live in the greatest city in the world. Happiness is seeing people smile, achieve their dreams and soar to greater heights. Happiness is feeling at peace, pleasant, content, excited, calm, jazzed and comfortable. But joy is something so much greater.

What is joy? What makes it different from happiness? We so often use the two interchangeably without realizing that there is a difference. All of those things truly make me happy, and the collection of them all contributes to my overall joy. When I think of happiness and joy, the most obvious distinction is that one is only a feeling while the other is a state of being. Joy is a state of being. So while happiness can contribute to my joy, it is not a state of being. Joy is something that I am. It is a deep feeling that consumes my whole soul regardless of what is occurring in my life. I cannot say that for happiness. There are moments in my life when I am unhappy, but I can still feel joy.

There are many things in this world that bring me moments of intense happiness, but there are also many things that bring me even greater joy. Joy is hearing my niece on the other end of the phone singing a primary song from church, seeing my family after a long absence, random acts of kindness for those I love, knowing who I am and loving me. Joy is knowing that every experience in my life is specifically designed for me, whether it is good or bad and that the bad experiences are all part of who I am. It is knowing that despite the pain and heartache that accompanies life, there is an equal if not greater amount of joy, and that I can tap into that joy by learning and growing every day. Joy is knowing that my potential is limitless, and that every moment of every day I am writing my own story and hopefully molding myself into a better version. Joy is Sunday mornings listening to the church bells outside my house, feeling that I am exactly where I should be and want to be, having friends who love and inspire me. Joy is hearing something beautiful, seeing something amazing that touches my soul, stretches my imagination and opens my mind. Joy is falling in love.

I am not just happy. I am joyful. And being joyful is what makes every day of my life beautiful and worth getting up in the morning. But it’s not just worth getting up, I am excited to get up and see what each day holds. I am truly blessed because I have so many things, so many amazing people in my life, so many fantastic and memorable experiences, so many heartaches and sorrows that make me human and help me to see the beauty in the joy, so many smiles and moments of laughter that make my spirit lighter and stronger. It is times like this in my life that I am acutely aware of my gratitude because I feel it is shining like rays of the sun from every pore on my body. The search for joy is a never-ending pursuit but one that yields fruits along the way. They are there if I choose to see them and embrace them. And the more I embrace them, the more fruits of joy I see.

1 comment:

mom said...

Nicely said, honey. I can see that you have been thinking about what life was meant to be. Keep up the good work. MOM