What is joy? And can I buy it?

Shortly after I made my post last night, I received this email from my aunt Sheilah:

I think overwhelming joy is not an everyday occurrence, but little joys can happen often, sometimes more than once in a day, sometimes even in the midst of sadness. Something that makes you smile is a little joy, perhaps a phone call, watching a squirrel working on a nut, a beautiful day with clear air, blue sky, pleasant temps and a light breeze, a spectacular sunset, learning something new, time with friends, finally
completing a dreaded job, knowing you have done something to help someone . . . Perhaps it just takes the minute to realize that this is a joy.

And she is right. My brain and thought processes are very black/white or all/nothing. In thinking that way, I was probably expecting/wanting/putting too much pressure on the idea of joy being this super wonderful blissful orgasmic experience. Is joy just a simple smile and taking the time to enjoy that smile and the feelings that accompany it? Is it as simple pausing and reflecting for a moment when something good happens? Or even just stopping for a moment and noticing what’s around you instead of plowing right through? If I hadn’t been open to exploring, would I have walked right past that mirror in yesterday’s post without giving it a moment’s notice? If I hadn’t had eyes open today, would have never seen this today?

Vulture and street light

I was driving to a garden center to look for a tree to plant in my back yard and, as I approached a stop sign, I looked up and saw this huge bird on a street light. (I think it was a vulture? I’m not sure.) The bird was just hanging out and looking around. I pulled over, rolled down my car window and took this shot with my cell phone. The bird hadn’t moved, so I got my point and shoot out (didn’t have my big camera with me), got out of the car, and snapped a few photos. All this time, people drove by looking at me like I was nuts. None of them stopped and even tried to see what I was looking at with such interest. Why not? I’d like to think that if I saw someone taking photographs of and staring at something on a random street corner, I’d slow down enough to try and figure out what held their interest. At any rate, I was glad I stopped to share a moment with this creature.

kefuoe commented on the previous post:

I used to wax philosophic about how I’d realized that what I craved more than the happiness of getting things was the contentedness of not wanting anything. That was really easy to do in my living situation at the time (as a Peace Corps volunteer in a hut in a village), but I found it so much harder when I returned to the states and everything I saw and heard was telling me what I needed to do (more often buy) to be a happy and fulfilled person.

As someone who constantly caves to the “buy buy buy” marketing, I agree. I our society, things and food are often linked to the promise of happiness. We all know that buying or eating that special something won’t truly bring us joy (at least, not of the lasting kind), but it’s amazing how quickly one can forget that when faced with yet another advert or “super bargain!” After, all, right after I published yesterdays post, I tweeted a link to a Breaking Bad box set. The purchase of which would momentarily make me think joy was on it’s way – boxed up and shipped directly to my door. Could it be that simple? Would the pain of looking at my credit card statement later undo that moment of happiness? Does one have to consider that later moment? Is there math in finding the balance to give one the greatest amount of joy?

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