J is for Joy

This week’s Pagan Blog Project post is about Joy, how to find it, and the things I find bring me the most joy. I think ‘joy’ means many things to many people – as unique individuals we find joy in many different things don’t we. This is a wonderful thing in itself. But what is joy? Well, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it thus:

A feeling of great pleasure and happiness (noun); to rejoice (verb)

Origin: Middle English: from Old French joie, based on Latin gaudium, from gaudere ‘rejoice’

While researching the word I came across the Christian take on this, alluding to what happens when one executes the  Holy Spirit in their lives:

Those who are influenced and directed by the Holy Spirit will produce “the fruit of the Spirit” in their lives.

Now while I am not a Christian something about this statement struck a chord within me – those who are influenced by Spirit (amended by me). You see I think real joy comes from allowing our spirits and the spirit of the Universe to move us. To me it means allowing ourselves to just be in the moment and open ourselves to the Universe, and all the wonder that is in it. Quite often it is a subtle moment, one that you might miss if you weren’t in the present moment. Also joy doesn’t have to be a fanfare of ecstatic feeling. Quite often for me it just brings a smile to my face and a warm, fuzzy feeling inside; a quiet moment, a private moment between myself and whatever is bringing me the joyful feeling.

On the other hand, joy can appear as a glorious fanfare, ecstasy and exquisite pain combined. The wonderful thing about joy is that the feelings in evokes are many and unique to each one of us.

Some of the many things that bring me joy are:

  • My beautiful daughter
  • Birdsong, especially my local blackbird singing each morning and each evening.
  • My two terrible kitties
  • Flowers of all kinds, especially dandelions who hold my smile even if I think I’ve lost it.
  • Wildlife, especially my family of local foxes, whom I have great pleasure watching from my bedroom window.
  • The little hedgehog who visits my garden occasionally.
  • My close friend.
  • Walking in the countryside, especially woodland.
  • Going on shamanic journeys.
  • Gazing at the moon.
  • Making love

Of course I could probably list many more things but when I was looking at my list I saw that a lot of the things that bring me joy are from nature herself. I think this is because nature offers so many reasons to be joyful, yet so often we miss these opportunities for joy because we are just too busy hurrying here and there wrapped up in our own lives, problems etc. The way to feel joy and truly appreciate these moments is to be mindful, stay in the present moment and be observant. Do we really know what’s going on around us? Do we really notice nature in all her glory? I know that I’m not always mindful and that makes me rather depressed, so I have to make it a daily objective to be mindful and enter into it consciously. When I do this I reap so much joy it is breath-taking and my day becomes lightened even if I have concerns about something – doing this helps me cope much better with those concerns or difficulties.

So if you feel as your joy is somewhat lacking, try taking some time to notice what’s around you, practise mindfulness even if only for a few moments each day and the Universe will bless you.

Blackbird singing

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