A Closer Look into the Joy Quest

Some messy thoughts have been a-brewing this week. While I haven’t quite gotten them all cleaned up, organized in their own little labeled thought cubbies, I want to explore them a bit here with you. Partly because I’m not sure I’ll ever successfully sort through them… Partly because I’ve love to hear your thoughts…

It all started when I had a few friends encourage me to remember that I don’t always have to be a joyful person. Sometimes, I might not feel the joy I think I should in all situations, and that’s okay. I don’t have to get on my case. I am human after all. (Dang it.)

After this exchange (one that I completely agreed with), I started pondering on a deeper level what joy I’m “aspiring for” as I write weekly. The last thing I’m trying to do with these musings is beat myself up or speak in a “corrective” tone. Nor am I aiming to fake joy when that’s not what I’m feeling.

Instead of a grand aha, this question led to more questions, and I found myself looking up some definitions to these words I’m exploring.

JOY – A feeling of great pleasure and happiness
HAPPINESS – The state of being cheerful, merry, joyful, gleeful, untroubled, delighted…

Differently stated: joy and happiness are feelings. Emotions. They are born of the same family as anger, melancholy, fear, apathy… Feelings, by definition, are an emotional state or reaction: the instinctual result of marrying general circumstance, biochemical reactions and the uniquely mysterious computers of gray mass in each of our heads.

As a natural next step, I came to two very important conclusions:
1. I desperately need to rewatch Pixar’s Inside Out, and
2. I firmly believe that we have no power to choose our feelings.

Instead, feelings (even angry ones) are part of a beautiful spectrum of reactions we all experience daily. SO! If I can’t choose my feelings, what is it that I’m claiming to aspire for? Digging into the world of inspirational quotes (thank you, Google images) helped me find what some other joy-seekers have said.

“The one thing in life you have complete control of is your attitude. Choose it wisely.”
– Unknown

“The choice to have a great attitude is something that nobody or no circumstance can take from you.” – Zig Ziglar

“Attitude is a choice. We can choose to be positive, happy and enthusiastic. Or we can choose to be negative, miserable and angry. The choice is ours to make every day.”
– Bryan Bradshaw

So this attitude thing? It had me turning back to Miriam Webster.

ATTITUDE – A settled way of thinking or feeling about something or someone that is reflected in behavior (italics added)

Here was my momentary AHA! I am not seeking to deny my feelings; instead, I’m aspiring towards an attitude of joy. More inspirational quotes enforced this:

“The deepest pain I ever felt was denying my own feelings to make someone else (even myself?) comfortable.” – Nicole Lyons with parenthetical statement added by Jen

“Nothing destroys self-worth, self-acceptance and self-love faster than denying what you feel.” – Iyanla Vanzant

“Whatever my outward response is, I have to deal with my feelings… If not, my body can shake; I have headaches, stomach issues… If I repress my feelings, they can do physical damage to my body.” – Donna Matlik (aka. my very wise mom)

So–that is obviously not the goal. How, instead, do I make an attitude of joy part of my daily posture? (Goodness knows I need the inspiration to stand up straighter!) To steal the words from Miriam Webster, I want to find ways to process my instinctual feelings in a way that I settle upon joy–in a way that joy is reflected in my outward response or behavior.

Here’s the kicker (as in right in the proverbial shorts). It’s also the reason my AHA was momentary: I have so many questions as to what this looks like.

  • How does one successfully choose an attitude that is in direct conflict with one’s feelings?
  • How do you express frustration and deal with less-than-happy feelings in a way that allows you to let them go authentically instead of deny them?
  • When does choosing a positive attitude backfire? Can it leave you open to being taken advantage of? If so, how do you find a balance of aiming for positivity while speaking up about what’s negative?

As I stew in this soup pot of thought over the next few weeks, I may or may not come back to some of these questions in future blogs. However, I would love to hear your take, experiences or successes around fostering a joyful attitude. If further conversation is all that comes of this, I won’t have to work hard at feeling pretty darn happy about it.

2 thoughts on “A Closer Look into the Joy Quest

  1. I’ve worked constantly over my life to upgrade my attitude. And I’ve written up several strategies that have work for me on my blog site. The great thing — they have helped. But I still need to apply them to my life on a daily basis. Sounds like you’re off to a great adventure :)) Dawn


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Fleeting Joy – Aspiring Joy

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