There is something I need to tell you.
It many seem kind of odd or confusing at first, but hear me out.
My goal in life, is not to be happy.
Sure, of course in the general sense, I want to be happy rather than sad or angry. I opt for smiley face emojis over the smirks or grimaces (although TBH, I’m more of a monkey emoji fan 🙈). And overall, if someone were to ask me if I am happy—I really am. I am grateful that my status quo is in fact happiness where I know for a lot of people, that base line is a struggle to achieve.
But being happy is not what I am striving for.
I am not aiming for happiness. I never really connected with quotes involving the themes of choosing or striving for happy. As a kid of the 90s, I never really understood the whole smiley face phenomena (even though I definitely rocked a smiley face patch on my jean jacket). Words littered across t-shirts stating, “smile, be happy”. Even at a young age, it felt too easy. It felt like a mask; it didn’t feel genuine. Now, when I think about being happy or choosing happiness in my life, the choice is clear to me: I don’t want to be happy.
If I had to choose, I would choose JOY.
Now, before you unscrunch your face to say, “well, sure, we would all rather feel extra happy. What’s the difference?”, allow me to explain.
Joy isn’t just supercharged happiness. Joy is that very visceral feeling that goes beyond the surface of happiness and seeps deep into your core. Joy is vulnerable, messy, and real. Joy acknowledges that as humans, we have other feelings, dark feelings, and that is okay. In order to feel joy, we must be familiar with its friend, suffering. (Just like in order to see the light, we must have the darkness) Joy can be momentous and expansive. Joy can also be small, simple, and savory.
I keep thinking about the scene from Harry Potter (oh yes, I’m going there) when Harry sees a Thestral for the first time and Luna Lovegood informs him that only people who witness death first hand can see a Thestral. His stance steadies as he gazes in awe of the beautiful beast before him.
I see joy as a Thestral.
We only know joy by accepting our humanness and therefore honoring all our feelings as life moves through us. We start to feel joy deeper the more we acknowledge, feel and heal our suffering. Joy doesn’t discount our other emotions, it honors them. Just like a muscle, we have to actively engage with our joy each day in order to truly see its strength.
For so long, I thought that happiness came from outside of me, and that joy was some mystical emotion that was hard to achieve. And more importantly, that I had to be worthy to feel joy. I believed I had to look a certain way, say and do certain things in order to be happy, liked or accepted. I subscribed to this belief that feeling all my feelings, especially the shadowy ones, made me less and unworthy. Oh, and you know, all that other fear nonsense like guilt and shame that pals around with it.
When I started my soul connect journey several years ago, I began to shed these self-limiting beliefs, and gave myself permission to explore the shadows. Sure, it was scary and uncomfortable and I wanted to quit and at times, but I kept coming back to the practice.
What I found was that by surrendering these beliefs and nurturing my connection to my authentic truth, my joy was amplified. I started to see a significant shift. It wasn’t outside things that brought me joy, it was the joy within me that was ignited by the triggers of people, places, experiences that sent a current of light throughout my being.
So often fear casts a dark shadow to hide our personal power. Fear does a great job at making us forget that joy is always accessible to us. Joy is our power.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not walking around all day high on joy. I am human.
And as a human, I feel a lot of things throughout the course of a day. I can definitely get caught up by fear’s tricks. But rather than blindly follow that fear, I access my power and choose a different route. I honor how I feel, for as long as I need to, then I actively engage my power of choice. What I now know to be true is that when I choose to see, cultivate and embrace the things that bring out my joy, I am able to more quickly shift from fear to love.
Joy is our soul’s innate being.
Joy is our birthright.
You may see it as semantics; and if happiness is a word you vibe with more, then do you, sister. But as for me, I am going to be over here, doing my thing, keep showing up + choosing joy.