The Importance of Joy

We begin at the night before Christmas….Americans on average get less sleep the night of Christmas Eve than any other night throughout the year. Ok I completely made that up, but it sounds about right. Restless children toss and turn all night anticipating the gifts they will receive when Christmas morning comes. Zombie parents are awakened and shuffle out of bed at ungodly hours. Bright and shining faces assemble around the Christmas tree tearing open wrapping paper and there, in that scene do we find the subjects of this post – happiness and joy.  

Joy is one of the main themes of the Christmas. We sing Joy to the World. Your grandmother tapes Christmas cards all along her fireplace (that she never uses), filled with wishes for joy. The whole reason for the season, Jesus Christ was born to bring joy and hope. But what exactly is joy? And why should we have it?

Merriam-Webster defines joy as – The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; a source or cause of delight. So a person can have joy, even though they don’t currently possess everything they desire. I can have joy just because I decided I wanted it and there is not a thing you or anyone else can do about it. Many people confuse joy with its close relative, happiness but there is a big difference between happiness and joy.

See happiness depends on what happens to you. Stay with me for a minute, we’re going somewhere. Merriam-Webster defines happiness as – good fortune; a pleasurable or satisfying experience. So basically something occurs and if I like it, I’m happy or conversely something bad occurs, that I don’t like and now I’m unhappy.

But joy, joy is something totally different. You can have joy in the middle of a trying time because to have joy is to have perspective. Joy is long term, big picture. To have joy is to see through right now to what will be. If you wake up on Sunday and get all the presents you wanted you’ll be happy. But even if you don’t get what you wanted you can still have joy, in your family, in your health, in your job and any other areas of life, no matter what happens to you.

In the black community, 2016 was a big year for joy. Celebrities like Chance The Rapper, who may be the biggest winner of all in 2016 helped to popularize #blackboyjoy and not to be outdone, our black women also reminded us of the power in #blackgirlmagic. These hashtags lead you to countless reminders of how awesome and amazing life is in and of itself.

The Christmas season is a wonderful time of year for many, but it is a difficult time for others. Some see December 25th on the calendar and are reminded of loss and loneliness. I have no idea which end of the spectrum you reside on. But I hope that no matter what life has brought your way, somehow this Christmas you find joy.

Merry Christmas from The Talented 6.

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Ron Simpson

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