Live Joyfully

I went to an event tonight. At the front entrance, there were buckets of promotional wristbands that read, “Live joyfully.” Speaker after speaker, slideshow after slideshow, I found myself madly distracted by trying to figure out what exactly “Live joyfully” means. I figured coming back to my computer after the night was over would be the best way to figure this out and exercise my amateur blogging skills.

How can two words spark so much thought? I guess the fact that every person in the world is going to have a unique interpretation of living “joyfully” is what makes it interesting. My first grade self would describe living joyfully as having unlimited ice cream and lots of friends. Oddly, that actually doesn’t sound much different than how I would describe joyful living thirteen years later. I think living joyfully is a completely individual experience for everyone. Dancing in the rain can sound like pure happiness to a teenager in love, but a nightmare to a burn unit nurse. I could find joy in watching the sunrise, and you could find joy in sleeping past noon. Whatever the case may be, our joy is determined by our pursuit of self-fulfillment.

I tend to find joy in simple things – ice cream, fresh snow, and wind — just a few things that come to mind. Whatever chemicals in my body react to produce the feeling of “joy” are unknown to me. But as I continue to think about “living joyfully,” I think our joy comes from fleetingness. I know I can only eat so many scoops of ice cream before having to go back to real food, I know the snow will melt, and I know the breeze will calm. Maybe it’s the realization that the certain thing I’m extracting joy from is only temporary. If those things became permanent staples, I wouldn’t have anything to look forward to. I wouldn’t have anything to miss. What I’ve come to think is that living joyfully is harnessing that temporary feeling of joy when the sun is tanning your skin, or when you get the perfect coffee blend, or riding a bike for the first time, and emitting that feeling constantly – as if nothing has changed since.

I do also believe that living joyfully comes from being thankful. It comes from recognizing gifts and embracing the ordinary. Because it is our gifts that bring about change in the world. Our gifts shape and form communities and cultures, and our gifts advance life as we know it. The ordinary contains characteristics of life we take for granted and brush over. We fall short in our thankfulness for what we consider to be ordinary. Elijah didn’t feel the significance of God in the violent earthquake or the spectacular fire, but in the slightest of breezes.

And the most powerful thing about joy is that it can spread. Joy can inspire, motivate, and enthrall. It is limitless and can reach all. Joy has indescribable capabilities.

Live full of joy – live joyfully

What is living joyfully to you?

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