A few months ago I wrote about joy and how it is different than happiness. I said that while happiness cannot, of course, be a constant we can find joy in most of our life.
One of my best lessons on joy came from a former sponsor who said this: “Joy comes from my relationship with God. So I can be Joyous even when I am not happy.”
But this idea of joy intrigues me so I have been reading about it. Yesterday I found more on joy written by Rollo May, psychiatrist and philosopher, who wrote the classic book, “The Courage to Create.”
May wrote is this about creativity and joy:
“When creativity or discovery is underway there can be a sensation that others might describe as anxiety but, the artist, at the moment of creating does not experience gratification or satisfaction (though that may be the case later when he or she has a highball or a pipe in the evening). Rather it is joy, joy defined as the emotion that goes with heightened consciousness, the mood that accompanies the experience of actualizing one’s own potentialities.”
That, I think, is close to what my sponsor meant about finding joy in our spiritual life even when we are not happy. It is close to what the artist is experiencing—that sense of actualizing a potential. Even in pain, even in grief—if we are truly conscious—we are growing and in that we can experience joy.
“You were not meant for pleasure, you were meant for joy.”