Sometimes we use the words “joy” and “happiness” / ”gladness” interchangeably. Like, I have a friend who likes gardening and baking so much, she finds so much joy in both. In Facebook she has photo albums called, “The Joy of Gardening” and “The Joy of Baking and Cake Decorating.” I have another friend who loves bird watching and she has tons of really awesome photos of birds. Some find joy in doing workouts, hiking, biking, jogging, mountain climbing, kayaking, etc. Still others find so much joy in visiting old folks, meeting up with friends, feeding the poor, watching movies, doing needlework, hosting parties and barbecues, picnicking, having cozy tea parties at home, going fishing, or long walks, driving out of town, etc. We can probably call all these as “hobbies” ? These things break the monotony of our lives and sometimes bring excitement, making us happy! But despite all that, “joy” can still evade us, right? You know, the “joy” we have defined in this site: “Having an inner peace knowing that you are obeying God even though you may not have all the basic ingredients of happiness which are financial freedom, good health, family, leisure and success.” So, the activities I mentioned above are actually sources of “happiness” but we sometimes call them “joy,” just because we do that out of habit – we use both terms interchangeably. In fact, the online Merriam-Webster definition of both words have very similar meanings. “Happiness” is defined as “the state of being happy” and “happy” is defined as “feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.” For “joy”, their definition is “a feeling of great happiness” and “something (e.g. success in doing, getting, finding) or someone that gives joy to someone.” So there.
If we are cheating on our girlfriend or husband, we can enjoy an afternoon of fishing but still not have inner peace knowing that we are doing something against the will of God, right? Or even if we don’t involve God, what if we get found out, like those people on the hacked infidelity site “Ashley Madison”? Or, I can have an evening of fun with friends at a movie but I come home miserable knowing my mom would have noticed the $20 bill I picked from her bag. Tsk, tsk. Humans do have what is commonly known as “conscience” and that is what keeps us from having inner peace when we are doing something wrong.
Or sometimes it may not even be our conscience. It could just be the nagging absence of a long-term happiness that comes from a stable income or financial support (from a dad, step-dad or husband), or it is the absence of a mom or dad or a long-missed sibling, or it can be a one-sided love affair (or crush), that’s bogging us down. Or it may be the chronic pain in the knee or back that downright spoils our fun, or even turns us totally grounded – ugh! No matter what distractions and monotony-breaking activities we do, those things can be real letdowns. I will write more on these topics in the future but for now, let’s focus on the “little joys” or happiness that come our way!
Summer came and went like a whirlwind and now it’s back to school. I know we all are not ready for it. For many of us maybe we needed a 6-month break, not a 3-month one? My family and I come from the tropics and we had wondered why here in America people always make sure they get out for the summer, at least for a while. Like a week in Hawaii or the Bahamas! (Would I love that!) Or they spend the whole summer months in their beachfront or country home. Some rent a mountain resort cabin even just for a week. As for us, we didn’t go anywhere in the last 3 summers and by now we really feel cooped up. Now we know that the snow and the cold months can make you mightily claustrophobic because the cold would just discourage you from going anywhere. So this summer, we actually drove some distance away! We were gone only two nights but we felt that was a real break and we actually felt “happier” coming back to our cramped home in a big crowded city. The fresh air and open space did wonders to our souls – just one day and two nights!
Going for walks in our neighborhood parks can be boring sometimes but the fresh air and summer sun do brighten up our day. We know our parks nearby too well and it can get lackluster going there, knowing that in a big city like ours, strangers don’t really talk to one another, nor even smile. But one great thing about schools opening is that you get some “new” strangers in your parks and some of them may not be jaded, big city dwellers. My special-needs daughter and I go for walks often. A couple of weeks ago we were on one of those “routine” walks but it turned out to be monotony-breaking! We met some really cool strangers who talked and smiled. As what the Bible says, “Do not be afraid to entertain strangers for they could turn out to be angels-in-disguise.” We dared not ask whether they were new in town but their smiles and rapport warmed our hearts. Thank you, gentle strangers! (I did get the feeling they could be highly-paid models, or they are on their way getting there, so, I took a couple of pics of them.)
Accessed Sep. 1, 2015