August 4, 2018

Joy...Outside of Me

What brings you joy? Like, actual joy?

Somehow, the question came up in conversation with friends. I didn't want to put myself out there, so I sat back and listened:

My relationship with friends.
When I accomplish [insert accomplishment here]
When people really get what I do all day.
When I...
When I...
When I...

From my judgey perch, something uncharacteristically pushy inside me added Okay. But what brings us joy outside of ourselves?

I'm pretty sure that's probably the last time I'll be invited anywhere. But anyway.

There was a long pause and people (including me) began shifting uncomfortably. I mean, what in my definition of joy is not exclusively and inextricably linked to some benefit to me? How self-centered and self-serving am I anyway?

We kept shifting and soon changed the topic.

But I kept thinking: what brings me joy that isn't about me at its core? I came up with a few. And by a few, I mean few:
  • Watching the lightbulb moment. These are the times when a concept, a feeling or an idea that I explain becomes clear in whomever I'm explaining that concept, feeling or idea. Bonus points if it's my kid who's having the lightbulb moment.
  • Giving my best and having it make a positive difference. The positive difference part is important here. I mean, I could give my best when it comes to anything in the maths and it would do all of the harm and none of the good. But man, if I can tack out a few lines or toss some structure into a program or curricula and it makes a positive difference, then yeah: JOY.
  • Saying/Writing the right words at the right time. Whether I can encourage, console or even point out something that just ain't right, it's all about discernment, timing and phrasing. If I can do any of those things right, it'll hit home for somebody and their life can be better.
  • Hearing God when He's talking to me. God's voice doesn't always mean a big ol' booming voice from on high. In fact, if His voice was that, I'd never hear it because I'm a scared of EVERYTHING. Sometimes, His voice is in the getting quiet and laughing at baby squirrels or bunnies' cottontails or even a Facebook post that someone's posted that speaks directly TO ME. Sometimes it's in the guy who approaches my car asking for cash when all I can offer him is bottled water.
So yes, there's joy in hearing God's voice too...but I guess that is directly related to me, but anyway...

You. You who have continued thus far in this exercise in reflection:

What is it that brings YOU joy outside of yourself?

Feel free to shift uncomfortably. I still am.

From the 2018 Women of Influence Awards. This pretty much sums up joy, if you ask me.

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