“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
Lately, “joyful” seems to be my favorite term of high praise. Earlier favorites were “passionate,” “fascinating” and “lush.” In my fifties, I definitely gravitate toward people and animals who are joyful. I find myself drawn to
- Little children and babies. This is probably my grandmother instinct kicking in; I don’t have any grandchildren yet, and I certainly don’t want to rush my daughter or step-son into producing the next generation. But I just love the giggly, wide-eyed, wondering way that little children look at the world around them. Is there anyone more joyful than a little kid in the park, picking daisies, examining bugs, running and whooping and climbing and loving life?
- Dogs. Joyful is the default mode of most dogs. I like cats too, but dogs are just SO. HAPPY. TO SEE YOU! And if you deign to toss a ball? Ecstasy! Dogs have a tremendous capacity for joy. I know that one important key to happiness is to take joy in ordinary things; after all, our days are full of ordinary things. I strive to be more like a dog in that respect, joyfully enthusiastic about life’s little treats.
- People who’ve found the right job. This is very hard to do, given our need to pay the bills, and most of us grub along at a job that’s OK, but doesn’t express our essence. But now and then I meet someone like Phil, the man who runs our YMCA. He loves his job, he loves people, and he just beams humor, welcome and joy. The mission of the YMCA is “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all,” and Phil embodies these attributes so well. He has a great big joyful heart.
- Kat Ross, my former belly dance teacher, is another. Look her up at katrossdance.com if you’re in Tacoma. I’ve always emerged from her dance classes feeling energized, mellow, and like a luscious, saucy wench. In fact, most dance teachers I’ve known have had this kind of joy and knack for spreading it. Dance class is always a reliable quick joy fix.
- My former Spanish teacher at Tacoma Community College, Dan Call. How I wish I’d met this joyful young man back when I was teaching foreign language classes. He so much enjoyed guiding, tugging, and encouraging us toward speaking Spanish, and his enthusiasm was contagious. His full-immersion classes were filled with games, puzzles, cartoons, films, and lots of conversation. If only we could teach all school subjects that way, there’d be no dropouts.
I guess that’s the key: find something you love to do, and then find a way to share that joy with others via teaching or mentoring—or playing in the park. I think I’ll take a walk to the park right now. I need a joy break.