As I was re-reading Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina recently, this quote really stood out to me: “All of the variety, all of the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.” Reading that quote reminded me of the nature of joy. Joy, unlike happiness, is a much more deeply felt experience. Joy is that feeling that you get when you watch a beautiful sunset. The feeling moves you; it awes you and keeps you watching quietly and with purpose. But being in joy is also being realistic. It is knowing that soon that sun will go down, behind the horizon, and that a long darkness will be settling in. It is being in touch with that bit of sadness behind the joy, but still knowing that the sun will rise (and set) again and again. It is allowing the sadness to be there because you know the light will return. It is also sometimes finding beauty in that velvet darkness. Happiness, on the other hand, is fleeting. It is like receiving a gift that you’ve always wanted for your birthday. It is a quick feeling of elation, until the gift is put away and forgotten about. Conversely, joy is finding that gift again – remembering who gave it to you and what the person who gave it to you means (or meant) to you. Happiness lives in the mind; joy resides in the heart. Joyful people think differently. They act differently. They feel deeply and realise that others do as well, so they speak with kindness and love. They tread carefully. They appreciate and notice the little things that many people overlook. They accept light and shadow into their hearts equally. By doing so, the grace, mystery and beauty of life present themselves to them wholly. Are you living a life of joy?
My new self-help book, ‘You Can Choose to Be Joyful’ is now available on all Amazon sites.