Monday, March 5, 2012

Unlock the Joy

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.
Helen Keller

     Joy is the spirit warmer. It’s the rumble of a finely tuned engine, the purr of the contented soul. Joy and happiness are true companions. Joy sparks the celebration of happiness, which overtly erupts, often with varying degrees of magnitude.  Joy, on the other hand can be quiet. It is the inner-workings of contentment—a completeness of soul. 

     I was speaking at a seminar awhile ago about my experiences with a devastating illness, followed by my beloved husband, Michael’s, death.  I was addressing the fact that in spite of my losses, I valued my life, and found joy in my living.

     After I was through speaking I engaged in a Q &A session with the audience.  A question was asked that gave me a little pause, and has fueled my introspection and self evaluation of “joy” ever since.  The question was, “Were you born with your glass half full?”  My honest answer was and still is, “Yes.”  The questioner looked at me with an “I thought as much” smug expression.  At the risk of filling the remainder of the hour with a fundamental discussion on the ups and downs of partially filled glasses, I let the “Q” and the “A” hang in the air.

     I left that meeting contemplating on the whole “glass half full/half empty” concept.  Was that why I was able to withstand all the trauma and tragedy which claimed my life for ten years? Is that why I can live with the fallout from those events with relative ease, just because of a half filled glass?  And what about others who consider their “glass half empty?” Could they have endured what I have endured, and come out of it as I have? My honest answer was and still is “yes!”

     The prime example, at least in my mind is Helen Keller. When Helen Keller was less than two years old, she contracted an illness which left her profoundly deaf, and completely blind. She had not yet learned to speak, and consequently had no language skills. 

      From the time she was 19 months old, Helen Keller existed in a sightless, soundless world. She merely existed until someone provided her the key to unlock the gate of the world in which she lived.  And just like everyone else in this world, she held the key to her own happiness. She found the joy in her being, in her soul. I don’t believe that she was taught how to be joyful. I believe, like any emotion, it was innate to her humanity. Was she born with her “glass half full?”

     The fact of the matter is this. It has never been as difficult for me to connect with my joyous spirit, as it has been for some people, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have one. Sometimes you have to search for the key to unlock the joy which resides deep in your soul. Sometimes it’s merely the willingness to look for the key which enables you to feel the joy inside of you.

     Joy is a necessary tool for the survivor’s toolbox.  Without allowing your joy to emerge, the happiness you experience is short lived, and hard to come by. Without joy, the sunrises and sunsets are simply the movement of objects in space...there is no peace or beauty associated with them.  There is no jumping to your feet in applause, or a melting of your heart by a smile.  Joy counterbalances the “sad” and the “hard.” It is the substance that makes you glad to wake up each morning.

     I agree with Helen Keller.  Joy is the antidote to despair. When you find the key and allow yourself to unlock your joy, “…your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” And your soul will purr like a finely tuned engine.