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What is Joy anyway?  by Liz Marcus

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

We’ve been told to pursue "joy," whether it is outer or inner joy.  Some examples are: to "live your joy," "don't tread on my joy" and to discard items that don't "spark joy" (from Marie Kondo) from your home.

A basic dictionary definition of “joy” is “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness,” for example, the expression — "tears of joy.”    It seems like joy is a feeling similar to bliss, a "constant state of being in bliss"?  So what is bliss?   We are told that bliss is defined as: (noun) "perfect happiness; great joy." and (verb) "to reach a state of perfect happiness, typically so as to be oblivious of everything else."

So isn't that something like being in ecstasy? And what is ecstasy anyway? A definition of "ecstasy" is "an overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement." or "an emotional or religious frenzy or trance-like state, originally one involving an experience of mystic self-transcendence " Now, I could get behind the latter, definitely, but I can't be in a state of ecstasy all the time.  This all sounds really hard to do. How do you keep yourself in a "joy" state, sometimes called a state of "high vibration." It is understood that when your vibration is high, you attract good/great things to you, otherwise, if you are in low vibration, you repel them. So if we deal with depression in any form, which I count myself among the many people who do, or we're simply down in the dumps, or bad things happen to us, how are we supposed to pull ourselves along and get to joy? We have a dark night and then "joy comes in the morning"? Be "love and light"? Well, sometimes joy doesn't come in the morning, love and light is bs, and we can’t pull ourselves out of what we’re going through for a year or many more, given our circumstances.  Maybe Joy is just too great a burden to pursue? After all, we are human, besides being spiritual souls in human bodies and life can be really tough. We have so many responsibilities, with work/looking for work, family, financial, existential crises and much more.  Joy seems to be unattainable and we should not be judged for not having it. For all the social media lives people post online, the articles, magazines, books, podcasts on "finding your joy," perhaps it's time to let go of any joy-sounding labels and just allow yourself to feel…. whatever. Maybe another feeling, emotion or state fits you better? Like how about: Peace? Contentment? Being satisfied? or--- This was fun, and I'm good? There are many states of being we can experience positively without chasing something that may always elude us. If life isn't working, don't sweat it. You're here. And if some moments of joy happen to come your way, that's ok too. Amen.

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