Choosing joy is something that one may hear mentioned in the Christian circles. It’s an especially popular expression amongst the conservative variety of Christians, actually. When they focus upon choosing joy, they focus on embracing the joy that is derived from their faith. In many cases, this push to be joyful in all things leads to quite a bit of difficulty for the adherents because they are divested of their clear and valid emotional responses to the world at large. It is an unfortunate thing that I truly hope will pass in due time.
I do believe that we can choose to be joyful, even in times of difficulty. Joy in times of challenge may come with a grim facade and dark humor. It does not change the fact that we are, however, laughing in the face of our difficulties. Indeed, the ability to do so could be counted as heroic considering how the little struggles of life mount a continual attack upon our welfare and sense of peace. In the Filianic community, joy is something that is to be embraced and sought out. It is a reflection of the grace of Dea and the joy that lead to the creation of the whole of existence.
The joy of existence, however, must not be considered something that is only attainable when the conditions are right. Much of our lives, we spend our time waiting for things to happen, doing preparation work for major life events, and generally just spinning our wheels. It is easy to view this time as wasted or as a source of distress. Feeling as though we are facing off against the futility that comes to frustrate us so often (be it real or perceived) can make most anyone unhappy and despair. Feeling that nothing we do will do any good and that we will perpetually be just keeping time rather then joining in the dance of existence is in many ways the opposite of what we should be seeking out in life.
All too often, however, we find ourselves caught in the bad habit of thinking that just because the days look similar that they are identical and what we do is pointless. It is difficult to break this line of thought. One of the most powerful tools we have in doing so is joy. Consciously choosing to find that which you find joy in through the day lifts your spirits and makes life a little less oppressive. Deciding to consider life from a more optimistic (but grounded in reality) perspective leads to our opportunities for joy becoming more prevalent because we begin to actively look for them.
It is like looking for a four leaf clover in the middle of a patch of clovers. If you just look at the clovers as a whole, it makes finding that four leaf clover very difficult. Considering each clover on its own is time consuming but it leads to the breakthrough of finding the first clover. After you find that first clover, it suddenly seems that all the four leaf clovers come into view at once because you have found the pattern to look for in the sight before you. Considering our days as a collection becomes overwhelming and the similarity of them makes it very hard to distinguish the positive differences between them. Looking for joy is looking for that four leaf clover.
We must consider each day on its own merits. Look for the sources of joy that can be found in that day. Some days, the joy may be only in the fact that it is over. Others, it may prove to be a good cup of coffee or hearing your favorite song on the radio. Finding these little threads of joy in the tangled skein that is our daily lives leads us to recognizing that glimmer no matter how faint once we become familiar with the practice. Our ‘eye’ begins to recognize the ‘pattern’ of that which gives us joy and we can begin to seek it out in the day in addition to recognizing it when it arises of its own volition.
Every day, every moment, we have a choice. We can choose to be pessimistic or optimistic in how we approach the situation. The person who is question for joy tends towards the optimistic choice because they are training their ‘eyes’ to see the pattern of joy which is much like optimism. If joy is the four leaf clover, then optimism is the three leaf clover that gets our hearts up and whets our appetite.
Choose joy, seek it out. You will find your heart’s burdens easier to bear for it.
May Dea’s love be ever upon you.
May Freyr’s blessings rest upon your heart.