It’s not likely to come to us by surprise—a calming, sustainable feeling of joy, of happiness, in our topsy-turvy world. Most likely you and I need to discover our brand of joy for ourselves, in some out-of-the-way place. It could be hidden right under our noses.
I’m talking about identifying and keeping in focus our own personal joy, our happiness, in spite of a world suddenly crowded with pandemic, ethnic racism, wide economic disparity or a degrading natural environment, or jobs that demand too much (or too little!) of us.
In spite of it all, I believe a single person’s joy can rise above it. Here are examples:
“My personal discipline is just sitting quietly and reflecting on my circumstances. Sometimes I sit outdoors and consciously listen to nature, to the birds sing, for example. We hold an in-person coffee klatch weekly, for friends and neighbors, sitting an adequate distance apart. It’s a joy to connect.” Dianne O’Donnell, 70, Minneapolis
“I’m not sick and I have a job. I’ve nothing to complain about.” Mark Winsor, 61, Minneapolis
“I try to keep busy. I walk half a mile each day. And I’d rather sit and listen to someone else talk than talk myself.” Kathy McGrane, 75, Augustana Apartments, Minneapolis
“I’m not anxious. I’m relaxed and happy most of the rime. We’re very safe here where I live, from the coronavirus.” Lillian Mays, Augustana Apartments, Minneapolis
“I haven’t written a mortgage payment check in three years, and I love it. My joy is being retired, have been for 10 years now. I served as a pastor for 30 years. Now I have time to do painting and house repair projects.” Greg Garman, 75, Minneapolis
“Before the pandemic I played in a pickup band Sunday mornings at Walker UM Church. We’ll be back!” Conrad deFiebre, 73, South Minneapolis
“For me it’s the simple things—being outdoors, going for a walk, the weather, even this hot weather. Communicating with people. We reach out more now intentionally, what with the isolation caused by the pandemic.” Mackenzie Drace, 21, Assistant Housing Director, Augustana Apartments, Minneapolis
“I don’t feel a lot of joy these days, the Coronavirus with us. It makes me anxious. My blood sugar is high, my blood pressure is low. What does it mean? (And yet she laughed several times as we talked about what joy is and where it comes from.) Barbara Busta, 77, Augustana Apartments, Minneapolis
Asking the questions is the journalist’s job, but in case it looks like I’m taking the easy route this time I’ll try to answer as well as ask on this one. Nowadays, how do I try to bring in joy?
The word “nowadays,” spelled into one word that way, may be the hang up for me and others. It’s in my dictionary, however, and is defined “in these days, in the present time.” Quite clear, then, that it can pertain to these unique days of the pandemic, et al., bringing a restriction of our freedoms and other social ills.
So need I even say it, Joy is what we need! The more each of us can learn how to bring it to a group the better. Sometimes I can bring in a big smile, by reading well aloud to a crowd, by telling a good joke; by getting others to laugh, by leading a committee meeting well.
The trick is to learn how to do it well nowadays.
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