joy thief

I often think of happy people as being naive, almost ridiculously carefree.  And aren’t all the cool people melancholy?  Artists, musicians, deep thinkers.  They’re generally not always smiling.  They’re serious and focused.  To me, it’s almost like it’s perfectly fine to be happy as a child, but once we’re grown up, we need to lean towards the {un}happy.  We need to grasp the scope of the world’s problems.  Plus we begin to realize what the thieves of joy are.

You’ve probably heard the expression:

“steal my joy”

As in…..

  • nothing can steal my joy
  • I let my flat tire steal my joy
  • don’t let circumstances steal your joy

Maybe you haven’t, but in my past I attended a lot of women’s ministry type groups, and it seemed to be a standard saying.

Lately I’ve had a few of those “joy thief” situations.  Car issues.  Expectations.  Emails.  Nice opportunity/bad timing.  The normal anxieties and issues of life.  The winter season.  Cooking sessions that didn’t turn out as expected.  Crazy, out of control eyebrows. 

This morning I came face to face, if not literally, then close, to three very real reminders that I should be happy.  Really, really happy because I have so much to be happy about.  On my morning commute I saw not one, not two, but three different scenes that were vivid representations of the joy I should be shouting about, instead of dwelling on the sublime.

Yet, alas, it seems to be so doggone easy to complain, to feel sorry for myself, to question why I can’t simply drive a 2013 Lincoln Towncar.  [not really, I’ve no desire for a Lincoln]

I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  So far, I believe Gretchen and I could truly be good friends if we knew each other.  The thing is, Gretchen, before becoming an author, went to law school and once upon a time was a clerk for none other than Sandra Day O’Connor.  She has a husband who seems to be a great guy, two daughters and she lives in New York City.  And, as I mentioned previously, she’s an author [which would be my career of choice, …..right after folk music star].  Why wouldn’t Gretchen be completely joyful 98% of the time?  Well….you’ll have to read the book to get the full gist.  So far it’s great and I’ve ordered a journal she created to work through with my fam, or at least my daughter.

But…….she did share one thing that for many of us, would quite likely steal our joy on a regular basis.  I won’t tell you what it is, but it has to do with her spouse and makes me realize that all of us, no matter how lovely our life looks to outsiders, have things that bring us down.  Often there are really good reasons for this.

Part of my focusing on the word HOPE this year, is learning to concentrate on JOY.  It’s hard to be hopeful if I’m not joyful and vice versa, really.  I know people say there’s a difference between happiness and joy.  And that we should be content, not necessarily happy.  I’ve even heard someone say [again, in a women’s ministry group] that happiness is overrated.  I’m not sure that’s the case.  Really, what’s so *#^% bad about being happy?

Isn’t that why we have weekends and cupcakes and picnics?

Honestly, I’m working on being {happier} because when I’m happy the people around me seem to be happier too.  Yet, I often feel this distant sense of guilt when I’m happy.  Almost like, “why do you have the right to be, when there’s so much suffering in the world?”  Sure, it’s part of being an American:  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  But, I’m not sure the rest of the world thinks too highly of us Americans and our pursuits.  It’s hard to keep it in perspective.

Again, maybe to be happy is to be naive.  Or maybe to be naive is to be happy.  And I’ve been accused of being naive a few times. 

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