Reflections on Joy
Martin, Amy, Hannah and Henry Grohman
Webster’s Dictionary defines joy as: a feeling of pleasure or happiness that comes from success, good fortune, or a sense of well-being. To me, joy is making someone laugh or smile or snuggling with our cat, Dalila. Helping out for a good cause — like planting flowers at my school or donating toys and treats to the animal shelter — also brings me joy.
Another definition of joy is the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. To me, joy is when I finally master the drum beat I have been practicing, or when I am able to land a trick on my bike that I have been working on, or when I get to spend time with my friends.
It gives me joy to be in the woods. I think I have nature deficit disorder. Too many straight lines close in on me. I think that’s the nice thing about an old church. Nothing’s too square.
It gives me joy to see my children play an instrument.
It gives me joy to see my children play a sport and play outside, like when Hannah plays lacrosse with me or Henry takes a bunch of scrap wood, piles it up and makes himself ramps and jumps for his bike. It won’t give me joy when he breaks his arm, but he seems to have pretty good judgment. That gives me joy too.
It gives me joy to know that when I am struggling through something, and I carry it around for days, if I can just remember to ask Amy, half the time before I can finish explaining it she’ll say, ‘why don’t you just…’
It gives me joy to connect people and help them succeed. I like knowing that at this point in my career I am fortunate to know enough people in enough places that I can sometimes solve a problem. A man came to me who through a series of mishaps hadn’t been able to have a state issued ID for 10 years. I fixed that problem for him in two weeks.
It gives me joy to see others happy and succeeding.
It gives me joy to be part of this community.
When I think of joy, what comes to mind are things like unbridled laughter among friends and family; the sight of a sunrise; and the taste of a warm homemade chocolate chip cookie. I find joy in the changing of the seasons and in the progression of the moon and sun that guides us forward. To me, this speaks to the existence of a divine being. But to be honest, sometimes I find it hard to talk about joy because I am so keenly aware that there are many people who for any number of reasons do not experience joy. And so I look for assurances to somehow “justify” my joy and I find them in the words of wise and thoughtful people such as Pope Benedict the 16th who said: “…Unembarrassed joy has become rarer. Joy today is increasingly saddled with moral and ideological burdens…I don’t have any right to rejoice, people think, in a world where there is so much misery, so much injustice…But this attitude is nonetheless wrong…The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the impetus and courage to do good…In this sense we have a new need for that primordial trust which ultimately only faith can give. That the world is basically good, that God is there and is good. That it is good to live and to be a human being. This results, then, in the courage to rejoice, which in turn becomes commitment to making sure that other people, too, can rejoice and receive good news.” Or, in the words of writer and poet Paul Martin, “To notice your joys instead of minimizing or discounting them is to become joyous. Notice joy, nourish joy, consciously take advantage of your opportunities to experience joy. Joy…takes you beyond yourself, deepening and expanding your mind beyond the boundaries of your disconnections.”