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When we think of joy, images of people laughing out loud, dancing in the streets, or exuberantly sharing their happiness often come to mind. But is this the complete picture of joy? A different facet of joy is the quiet, internal experience that is less about performance and more about personal fulfilment and inner peace.
Joy, as defined by many, is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. But this simple definition barely scratches the surface of its depth and complexity. What does it truly feel and look like to be joyful?
Simone de Beauvoir spoke of joy as an affirmation of one’s existence in the world. For those searching for meaning to life, joy can give us reason for being, for hope. Where does this joy come from? Contemporary authors like Brené Brown see joy as a result of gratitude, not just a cause for it. For her, it is the practising of gratitude, a la the Reiki Precepts, that can bring joy into our world.
Often, what is perceived as joy is intertwined with the ego – a need for external validation, a desire to be seen as joyous. This performative joy can be misleading. It projects the idea that joy is always loud, always visible, and always shared. The need to show others that you are joyful overlooks the quieter, more personal experiences of joy that don’t require an audience or external validation.
“Egolessness is a state of mind that has complete confidence in the sacredness of the world. It is unconditional well-being, unconditional joy that includes all the different qualities of our experience.” Pema Chodron
The softer side of joy is found in moments of quiet contentment, in feeling connected with oneself on a deeper level. The Japanese concept of ‘yūgen’ (幽玄) is about feeling profoundly moved by the beauty and mystery of the universe in a way that’s deeply personal and often indescribable… a deep awareness. From this private, hallowed place, a quiet, unconditional joy, that knows no labels, wells up.
You do not need to throw joy at the world. It takes a lot of courage to embrace quietness and to simply know joy. And when I am in joy, my world is in joy.
Joy, in its quietest form, is a state of being that resonates deeply within us. It doesn’t clamour for attention but can be found in the silence of our hearts, in moments of introspection and inner peace.