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  • Writer's pictureJo Corns

The true meaning of joy

Updated: Sep 26, 2021



The definition of the word joy in the dictionary is ‘a feeling of great pleasure and happiness’, yet to me this is only fleetingly felt and can’t be maintained. It would definitely come as a result of dopamine and serotonin being released into our body, the happy chemicals we all love to feel. Although, it just doesn’t go deep enough for me. It’s not the removal of pain and suffering from our lives that leads us to true joy, yet the ability to cope better with what life throws at us. That long-lasting feeling of contentment, inner peace and calm that can’t be felt whilst the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are pumped around our bodies.


This led me to consider if there are different types of joy…


The external joy, that can be seen when in the smiles as friends are out having a drink and a laugh together, it’s real enough at the time and the happy chemicals will certainly be pumping. It’s a great stress-reliever and as a child this is the type of joy I would strive for. Yet as much as I tried to cling to it, I had to come home to myself at some point. Which is where I find the problem lies with the joy coming from external stimuli, what happens when things aren’t going in your favour, or your friends aren’t around when you need them.


Which leads me to internal joy, the type that is felt day in, day out as an underlying current of ‘all is well’ and an unshakeable trust that it will only keep getting better. As Oprah said, ‘I define joy as a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace – a connection to what matters.’ This type of joy is not affected by what happens externally as we can’t possibly know at the time what the universe has in store for us. What could be perceived as undesirable might just turn out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to you or lead you to it. Therefore, living without judging what’s happened, if you can’t change it there’s no point to fighting it, acceptance will make you free.


The joy of innocence, that which we see in children as they find awe in everything they explore, whilst truly following the excitement in what life has to offer. Yes, we gain responsibilities as we age yet keeping the joy of the little things can make such a difference in life. Think about how often you might have heard the words ‘this is the best day ever’ come out of a child’s mouth for something that we see as not so special occurring. Yet to them just being here growing and learning about all this world can show them, keeps each day fresh and wondrous. Unfortunately, regularly as they grow our patience for them playing wains and their daydreaming becomes a problem. We train them that hard work is the only way they’ll get anywhere in life and this joy is soon replaced by the daily grind.


What we truly need as a society is to find the balance between all three, connecting with friends and family to raise our happiness level. Yet finding practices that can maintain a stillness within so you can deal with the rollercoaster ride that is life. Whilst taking time to look around you in wonder at how special our planet is and the limitless possibilities that our life can offer us, if only we’re willing to create them.

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