I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart
Down in my heart…to stay.
And I’m so happy, so very happy
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart…
Remember that song from Sunday school when you were younger? I’m not sure if children still sing it, but when I think of being joyful I do remember it. I remember singing it as an adult and thinking, “What on earth does it mean to have ‘that’ joy down in my heart?” It’s difficult to sing that song and frown at the same time.
Maybe we’re on to something here.
Well, what is joy anyway?
The dictionary defines it as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.
That would mean that joy is an emotion and subject to external circumstances. It would also imply that you could only be joyful if you are successful and you get what you want. Strange thing though, I know lots of successful people who have everything they could ever want and they are not even happy, let alone joyful. Some of them are depressed and have a black cloud over them wherever they go. And when they manage to step out from under the black cloud, they turn back and pull it over themselves again. Do you know people like that?
On the other hand, have you ever met people who have very little and they’re not doing so well health-wise, but they have a twinkle in their eye, they smile a lot and are generous with what they do have? I know people like that and they are usually busy giving little gifts, baking for people even less fortunate than they are, and in general they are content with their lives. They spread happiness and smiles everywhere and when they leave, you feel better about yourself and everything around you. These are the people who spread sunshine, love and hope.
I think they might be joyful!
Perhaps joy is much bigger than happiness. While happiness appears to be dependent on external circumstances like good fortune, health or the weather, joy is not dependent on such things. Joy is a state of mind and heart that gives our lives meaning and makes us come alive. At first it is a state of mind and then it becomes a trait we have and is woven into our way of being.
So once again, what is joy?
Joy is a trait we have that is more than happiness,
just as happiness is more than pleasure.
Pleasure is in the body.
Happiness is in the mind and feelings, but
Joy is deep in the heart, the center of our very self.