When joy isn't the answer

In a world where we have instant access to people, on-demand access to food delivery, and virtual assistance we aren’t happy. Stop throughout the day and ask yourself, am I happy? What more do I need to be happy? What am I doing today to lead to happiness?

Because I’m happy
My son’s choir sang a great song this month called “I Sing Because I’m Happy”. On stage, he had a grin from ear to ear. Other kids were focused, as if they were singing because they were singing. If I’m feeling drained or sad and I make myself sing, it is hard to stay sad. One could say I sing because I’m sad. Or sometimes, like yesterday, I find myself happy because I decided to sing. Yesterday, was May 1st and I couldn’t stop singing “it’s gonna be may”. I had so much fun.

How do you want to feel?
Maybe happy isn’t the correct word to use. What about content, pleased, satisfied? Perhaps “happy” should be reserved for unexpected moments of joy; the truly pleasurable moments. Maybe happiness isn’t meant to be a constant, but rather a special feeling.

What about joy?
If happiness isn’t the right description, what about joy? Is what you are doing bringing you joy? Is what you own bring you joy? This is the year of using the Konmari Method, Marie Kondo’s formula of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. It is no coincidence that Netflix released “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” at the beginning of the new year. The 2019 year-end wrap up shows will certainly talk about the trend of “sparking joy”.

Does Tidying Up bring joy?
I took advantage of the trend of tidying up and took to my closet to rid things that didn’t spark joy. I folded my clothes the KonMari way. And I liked the result. If I closed my eyes, and grabbed a piece of clothes I knew I would like to wear it. This ties in to two blogs I’ve written. The Ideal Morning which includes carrying out morning task without thinking about them. And Blue and Gray Suits which encourages you to lessen decision fatigue by having a “work uniform”.

Keeping your joy boat afloat
Enough questions. The title of my blog says “when joy isn’t the answer” and all I’ve done is pose questions. So to get to my point, I realized I spend a majority of my day trying to keep my joy boat afloat. I don’t want to feel pain, anger, distrust, fear, loss. When these feelings even begin to break a hole in my boat, I look for a piece of joy to plug it.

Pushing down the bad feelings
There are a million ways to avoid or displace feelings we don’t want to feel. We seek them out by the minute. A tweet that will entertain me. An insta that will insprire me. A snap to make me feel liked. A like to make me feel loved. A pin to help my creativity. A podcast to tell me what to do. A pill to ease my tension. A binge-show to make me not feel at all.

Feelings are what we need
Instead of trying to plug the holes in our joy boat, what about just letting ourselves feel the way our body wants to feel. Feelings of anger aren’t bad. Feelings of sadness aren’t wrong. Feelings of despair aren’t worthless. Is it possible that to keep the joy boat afloat we need more pressure under the boat? Pressure in the way of feelings.

Disney knew it all along
If you question whether joy solves all problems, look no further than the Disney movie Inside Out. I also encourage you to watch the extras when the writers talk about how many emotions they started with before narrowing it down to Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger.

Don’t look outside of yourself for joy
The next time you look outside yourself for joy, which will be any minute now, take a second and look inward. Are you feeling a way you don’t want to feel? Could you take a few minutes and let the feelings take hold of you becaues it is exactly what you need right now? Can you sit with the “bad” feelings; sit in the muck without trying to fix it? Just feel. No seeking joy. No seeking answers. No seeking solutions. Just feel. Try it. Let me know how it goes.