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The A to Z Guide to Life: J for Joy. Monday February 8, 2016

I remember a wonderful moment in an episode of "Star Trek; The Next Generation." Lieutenant Worf, dressed as one of Robin Hood's Merry Men, declares, "Sir, I protest... I am not a Merry Man!"

I echo his declaration. I am not a merry man. Neither am I a happy man. Yikes! That sounds negative doesn't it?

However, I am not concerned because my life is full of Joy. Joy flows from my heart. Constantly. A never-ending stream. I sing all the time. Music accompanies me wherever I go. People think I am happy. I am not. But I am joyous.

Happiness, to me at least, depends up on an old-fashioned word: happenstance. A happy collision of favourable circumstances. It's based on certain 'things' having to work in our lives. Happiness is for amateurs!

Joy is independent of circumstance.

My life doesn't work. It never has. Probably never will. I am not happy. Probably never will be. The spirit of cancer is attacking many of my family and friends at the moment. I cannot be happy. I refuse to be happy.

But I rejoice – I have joy in their presence. This is very, very, critically different. Fundamentally different. Essentially different.

Those of us who face mental-health challenges as well as physical-health challenges may reasonably assert that there is no place for happiness in our present circumstances. Happiness is inappropriate.

But there is always space for joy. From the heart. From within. And shared between us. And in between each tear. This is why I am a fan of Joy.

So, how can we tap into more and more joy? Where is that endless fountain?

The Psalmist believed there was 'Joy' in God's presence. I'd latch onto the concept of 'presence' to begin with.

I have joy (and sorrow) in the presence of my family members and friends who are suffering. I grow my joy in the presence of my Granddaughters. In the presence of my sons, I nurture the seeds and fruit of joy. They are my pride and joy.

I feel my joy in the presence of the music that links me to my past, my present, and my dreams – that music that is an echo of the songs flowing from my heart.

I experience joy in the presence of my natural flow: being creative, being in nature, creating, giving, bearing fruit.

I discover joy in the presence of the birdsong every morning. Their pointless anthems hold the secret to infinite purpose: gratitude.

I am soaked in joy in the presence of the flow of water over me in the shower each day – lost in those few precious moments. Simple pleasures. Celebrated.

Recognising those in whose presence you experience Joy is my wish for you today: I wish you Joy. I hope you'll awake to the presence of those who really count.

A Moodscope member.

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Michael Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 5:56am

Thank you very much for this blog post. I too seek to 'rejoice always'. the distinction between that disciplined activity and the changeable thing we call happiness is very well put.

Michael Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 6:02am

Me again. i read in a book yesterday: Sometimes i wish that all birthday and holiday wrapping paper would have printed on it 'Lower your expectations, increase your joy'.
Seems to me, similar to what blog post says: realistic expectation about happiness can lead to increased joy.

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 7:41am

Many thanks, Michael. I find this distinction liberating. I've nothing at all against 'happiness' - health, wealth and happiness is what I'd wish for the whole world, but it simply isn't realistic. Really appreciate you taking the time to encourage me not once but twice. Wishing you deep joy today. L'xx

Adam Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 7:02am

Beautifully written Lex!

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 7:43am

Thank you so much for saying that, Adam. Sometimes when one writes, there's a deeper sense of connection and I felt that with this blog. Wishing you deep joy. L'xx

Hopeful One Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 8:04am

Hi Lex- wonderful post. Maybe part of one's problem lies in the line -"I cannot be happy. I refuse to be happy."? Maybe one could say" I can sometimes be happy . I sometimes will allow myself to be happy?"

Happiness is a by product of what we do,see feel achieve,think. It does not exist in isolation.

Foe me happiness is summed up by this Ken Dodd song.

Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess
I thank the Lord I've been blessed
With more than my share of happiness

To me this world is a wonderful place
And I'm the luckiest human in the whole human race
I've got no silver and I've got no gold
But I've got happiness in my soul

Happiness to me is an ocean tide
Or a sunset fading on a mountain side
A big old heaven full of stars up above
When I'm in the arms of the one I love

Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess
I thank the Lord that I've been blessed
With more than my share of happiness

Happiness is a field of grain
Turning its face to the falling rain
I can see it in the sunshine, I breathe it in the air
Happiness happiness everywhere

A wise old man told me one time
Happiness is a frame of mind
When you go to measuring my success
Don't count my money count my happiness

Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess
I thank the Lord I've been blessed
With more than my share of happiness

Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess
I thank the Lord I've been blessed
With more than my share of happiness

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 9:39am

That's quite possibly the best song, ever, Hopeful One. I love it! I'll play that on the show today. I may be misleading with my blog today. I love happiness, and go skinny dipping in it from time to time. My current circumstances make happiness seem inappropriate but happiness' sister, Joy, steps in for these more challenging moments. Health, Wealth and Happiness are gorgeous - if a little transitory at times! Have a joy-filled and happy day, HO, L'xx

LillyPet Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 8:09am

Morning Lex,
I like this way of distiguishing the elusive concept of happiness. There's an implication in some spiritual teaching that if we live our lives in the right way we will eventually achieve it. I thought if it more as appreciating moments of happiness, but I much prefer the idea of being joyful.
The sky is bright in London and I feel joyful looking up at it having read your blog this morning. I look forward to being mindful of the (sometimes very small) things that bring joy.
Your joyfullness comes through in your writing! Thank you LP :) xx

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 9:39am

You know you are always a Joy to me, don't you? L'xx

LillyPet Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 11:53pm

Yyyyep! :))

Sarah Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 8:27am

Thank you Lex your post is up lifting! I saw a film called Memoirs of a Geisha and there was a scene where blossom petals were falling and she said to her love , " I feel so happy" he said , " hold on to that feeling because it won't last". He was saying don't expect happiness but if it comes be grateful for it. Sarah ( yellow rose)

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 9:46am

Oh Yellow Rose Sweet Sarah I hear your words And agree with ya! L'xx

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 9:47am

Reminded me of that wonderful scene in, "The Last Samurai" - where the last samurai is looking at the cherry blossom and says, "...perfect... they are all perfect..." L'xx

Anonymous Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 8:33am

For me, the distinction between happiness and joy is similar to the one that I feel about fun and pleasure. These days, at school, the pupils are supposed to have fun - but that takes away the more rewarding sense of pleasure of tackling something difficult and having the pleasure of knowing that you tackled something determinedly, persevered and triumphed. If fun and happiness are substituted by joy and pleasure, perhaps our lives become more meaningful.

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 8:57am

Absolutely agree! I like the word "amusement" for its honesty - literally to be without thought. As such I have almost zero time for amusement, but all the time in the world for meaningful pleasures. Great distinctions, thank you! L'xx

Mary Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 8:56am

Thank you Lex. This is an absolutely delicious piece of writing. My own life purpose is to create beauty and generate joy. You are right: this joy is independent from happiness.

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 9:00am

Coming from a writer of your stature, Mary, that's such a blessing. I am beaming. L'xx

the room above the garage Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 9:37am

Thank you Lex X.

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 9:48am

Thank you too, dearest RATG. Big Lex Hug, L'xx

susan Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 10:10am

What a really beautiful piece of writing, Lex. I am not generally happy, either, but often joyful. Happiness to me is more an intellectual assessment or state of mind while joy springs from the heart, often as a surprise ("Surprised by joy"). And it is an evolved and inspiring soul (you) who can feel joy in the presence of so much worry and sadness like you have at the moment re serious illnesses. So thank you. And you've also explained why I've always loved birds so much:) xx

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 4:25pm

It's Hardy's Darkling Thrush that I hear in these birds, dear Susan. Here's an excerpt of his wonderful poem: ... At once a voice arose among The bleak twigs overhead In a full-hearted evensong Of joy illimited; An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, In blast-beruffled plume, Had chosen thus to fling his soul Upon the growing gloom. So little cause for carolings Of such ecstatic sound Was written on terrestrial things Afar or nigh around, That I could think there trembled through His happy good-night air Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew And I was unaware. ... Here's to present and future Joy! L'xx

Bearofliddlebrain Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 10:35am

joy - a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
....delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, ebullience, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, transports of delight, rapture, radiance;

Lex, when I looked up the word JOY on my pootery thing, it came up with the above. I take great 'delight' in watching the dogs we meet daily, rushing up and down and whizzing around like mad things on a mad is just one the 'great pleasures' I get from the daily walks. The winds this morning have been 'exhilarating', to say the least!!! Almost lost me wig! 'Triumphant' I was, getting back home in one piece and still attached to doggit....he hadn't blown away! And he fills me with 'glee' when we get to the garden and he runs around for a funny five if we hadn't just walked for an hour and a half!!!!

But one of the most beautiful words for joy, that I can connect with your joy (when surrounded by family and friends who are seriously ill,) is the 'radiance' I saw in my mother as she lay dying; day to day watching her fade was so dreadfully sad, but her skin still seemed to have a beautiful radiance to it and I think, reflected the beauty she held within.
Bear x

Norman Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 4:00pm

It's very windy here and I swear I just saw a dog float by attached to a leash, and at the other end of the leash was a Bear! I'd better re-read the leaflet that came with those tablets...

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 4:29pm

Dearest Bear... you've said it so perfectly, "reflected the beauty she held within." Perfect. I too, took great delight in the dogs I saw today. I might be on the same tablets as Norman! One poodle type dog was gleefully running into the wind - its curly locks flowing backwards like some Hollywood Movie scene. Simply Wonderful! L'xx

Bearofliddlebrain Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 7:01pm

It could have been the tablets...but let's hope not! I just lurve the thought of a cuddly bear taking a dog for a walk! x x x

Moya Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 10:49am

This is the first time I have left a comment! Just wanted to say that I agree with what you say. Even in the very depths of dispair there is still some joy in life. I have never wanted to 'swap' places with anyone. There will always be joy for me in my children, animals and nature and nothing can take this away. Things will always get worse and better than any given moment but the things that you find joy in will always be there.

Bearofliddlebrain Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 11:15am

Welcome Moya - how right you are and hope to see you here again! Warming Bear hug x

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 4:31pm

Yes Moya, along with Bear, I'm so pleased you commented. I have to say I'm full of joy today. Reading your responses has highlighted the centrality of this emotion to the success of my coping strategies. Please comment time and time again. L'xx

Salt Water Mum Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 12:04pm

'Happiness... A happy collision of favourable circumstances. It's based on certain 'things' having to work in our lives. Happiness is for amateurs!

Joy is independent of circumstance'

I really like this Lex. It makes wonderful sense to me. I feel exactly the same.

When my dad died a few years ago, none of us made it to his bedside in time. It was sudden in the end and very early in the morning. We all have our regrets about not being beside him when he passed on - even though we had been visiting for months.
But my great comfort was that the kindest nurse of all where he was, was there with him when he died And her name? Joy :-)))


Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 4:33pm

You've brought tears to my eyes, SWM... and to others reading this too, I'm certain. Yes, a perfect example. What a beautiful name "Joy" is, and how wonderful to live up to and into and shine out of one's name. Thank you. L'xx

Catherine Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 1:47pm

Thank you Lex that is a great blog makes perfect sense to me. I am going to print it and try to take it with me through this week.

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 4:36pm

Thank you, Catherine. May you find many, many moments of joy this week, and notice them consciously and continuously. May they sparkle like stars in the firmament of your experience, and may you see meaningful patterns woven together by those moments... like constellations. L'xx

Norman Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 3:53pm

Lex: another intravenous injection from that drug Moodscope!

I close my eyes and I'm conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra playing Beethoven's Ninth (Ode to Joy). The huge audience behind me are actually the choir and I'm totally surrounded by emotion and sound.

And then I hear the words of Ewan McColl in his last song:
"Take me to some high place of heather, rock and ling
Scatter my dust and ashes, feed me to the wind
So that I will be part of all you see, the air you are
I'll be part of the curlew's cry and the soaring hawk
The blue milkwort and the sundew hung with diamonds
I'll be riding the gentle wind that blows through your
Reminding you how we shared
In the joy of living"

Thanks for triggering those associations! Big Man-Hugs!

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 4:37pm

Wow! Big Man-Hugs received and reciprocated. Have you ever encountered Benjamin Zander's work? He's big on Ode to Joy. Guess what I'm off to check out now? L'xx

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 4:42pm

Lex Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 4:47pm

Bearofliddlebrain Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 7:04pm

WOWEE zowee, Norman...that's a beautiful song you have quoted and I'll be following that up! Fangu! Bear hugs too! x

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