Day 3: Joy 

This morning, I wasn’t feeling particularly well physically. Yet, my spirit was so full from all the attention I’d been dedicating to myself in the past few days. Laying curled in bed I began to wonder where the joy came from exactly? Did I get it from the sun or the ocean? Was it in isolation or in community? Where had it been and how had I stumbled upon it? I asked about a hundred people:

If someone asked you the secret to joy in life what would you say?

–my mom

“My belief in Jesus. That belief centers everything for me and is continually the basis for my joy. It’s my ultimate constant.”

“Freedom. Most people are so tied to working and sustaining lifestyle and bills that they don’t get to truly live, pursue their interests and passions or even form meaningful relationships with loved ones.”

“Friends like you who make life splendid.”

“I would say it’s just living without worry. Letting go of worry over things you can’t control and understanding that joy is something from within and you can’t find it outside of you.”

“I would ask them, why they think I’d  know where this highly sought after gem is located lol” ((he later added)) “My answer isn’t one. Because I think only that individual can find out what will bring them joy. And that no one solution will be universal.”

“A willingness or ability to be joyful. Impossible without that.”

“[To] Do what you want.”

–Jennie Miller

“Love. Love of yourself and others. Mindfulness is also a big part of it.”

“God, seriously I’ve seen and experienced so many disappointments but all my joy that I have experienced comes from his blessings.”

“Knowing that my presence in other peoples lives somehow enhanced theirs after meeting me and knowing I contributed to the betterment of mankind by my actions! And having a daughter as smart as you to further that tradition!”
–My Dad

“Maybe doing what makes you happy no matter what people say or the obstacles stacked up against you?”

“True friends. That’s really what’s it all about is love. Friends lead to spouses and children. If I have learned anything in life [I’ve learned] the people in my life are my joy.”

“Peace & love….although I’d hardly say those are secrets”

“Being content where you are.”

“passion, pain, and love and the recognition that each of those things needs the other.”

“The way you process your thoughts.”

“Self-love and appreciation.”

“The secret to joy, eh? Welp, I would say that has to do with trusting your internal voice. It’s when you get to a place that you don’t need the external validations and where you feel comfortable in who you are and how you feel. It’s in knowing that external supports are present but you don’t need those supports to necessarily know what you want. It’s in being able to know who you are enough to continuously surround yourself with the people that challenge you, encourage you, make you laugh, and want you to be your best self. It’s in the ability to make yourself laugh because you enjoy spending time with yourself. You enjoy your quirks but you don’t need others to tell you that your quirks are cool. Also, James Taylor and the ocean.” She later added, “I also think that joy is about heartbreak. Not everyday is “happy” but happiness isn’t joy. The two aren’t one in the same. And perhaps I can’t articulate the exact difference, but it still exists. It’s being okay with immense heartbreak because you’re better for it. You’re better for being resilient and you’re hopefully able to give yourself more fully after the fact. After you weave in and out of comfort and putting up walls, you can look back and say, “I’m okay.” It’s appreciating those wins- big or small. I know I can sit here and say that I’m incredibly glad to have gone through the worst kind of heartbreak one could ever imagine, because it helped to challenge my views on the world. It made me harder and it made me struggle faster to realize that I didn’t want to be so hard. But not everyone should or needs to go through heartbreak, but it’s appreciating all of the losses and letting them add to your being.”

“Lately I feel like I plan for it- what will I do today that I really enjoy? Even if it’s just a good cup of tea or a true hug from a friend. I also find joy in finding the joy.”

“Not sure I know it. LOL. Um, enjoying as much free time as you can with family and friends.”

“The secret to joy in life…I would say faith. Faith, not specifically religion, but faith in something beyond what you see.”

“Being willing to get lost in things that are beautiful.”

“The secret to joy in life is… To not take it too seriously and try to see the light side of everything (as opposed to shadow). The light would thus include stuff like love, fun, etc etc. ”

“Finding the “awe” in it. A lot of people say gratitude and maybe I have always needed more than most people, but I need to remember awe in order to be happy. I can be grateful for a beautiful night but I am happy when I think about the mystery and magnitude of the stars. Why?”

I think it is important to note that this was the first time anyone asked me “why” I’d inquired in the first place. I told her, I’m just taking an inventory. Curious about the contents of joy. And carried on…

“Being comfortable in your skin…it has an uncanny ability to allow you to “do” and accomplish what you want in life…also, you know me, Jess, dogs😘”

“Be still. Joy is always present. You just have to take time to notice.”

“Realizing that becoming the best you is the happiest you. Won’t matter how much or how little you have if you trust and love yourself to guide your path.”

“[To] Keep looking forward.”

“Hmm that’s tough. Living in the here and now so that you can enjoy the good moments and understand that bad ones will pass and will not last for ever. Also, don’t beat yourself up too much when you make mistakes but learn from them and realize how those mistakes have made you a better person. And wine lots of wine 😀”


“It depends: Love and purpose.”

“Finding yourself and a career that gives you purpose?”

“Life is short. It takes up too much energy to worry about what other people think. Your life is yours to live. Don’t let others dictate how you live it or have power over your own happiness. That’s what initially popped into my head. So I’m gonna go with it.”




“Hmm good question. I would probably say to love yourself as you are & without any regard to your external circumstances.”

” Grace”

“Being able to find peace of mind and contentment in your current situation… Whatever that may be.”

“It’s funny to read this today because I’ve had kind of a crappy few days, and while these days I’m normally really happy with my life, lately it’s been harder to make the choice to be happy. But for me, I think the “secret” to joy is actively choosing to be joyful, and seeking a path that aligns with what makes you happy. Focus on the good and actively let go of the things that make you unhappy, even if it feels good in the moment to nurse a grudge. I think joy requires active participation until it becomes a habit.”

“Seeing love in life, that is, having a genuine interest in seeing others and myself succeed in achieving our dreams to better the lives of others. A life sourced in forgiveness, integrity, and hope so one might be able to live in and appreciate the present moment to the fullest. (By present I mean, being informed by the past, firmly grounded in the present creating the future dreamt of.) Enjoying the paradoxes in life, exploring them as a pleasant and playful mystery. How about you?”

Rod was the first to ask my answer in return. To which I said, “experiencing the gratitude of love.” And carried on…

“Disposable income. There are so many needs that stand in the way of me being able to do what I want. Buy a home, travel, do things other than working to live. And that’s terrible and shallow but that’s what makes things difficult.” She later added, “How did I forget being able to eat well? That’s another thing that I need to do.”

“I would say what gives me joy is being spiritually balanced, financially stable, good health and finally having the perfect woman in my life. Financially stable translates to having a good job.”

“Being kind to yourself and others.”

“Be with people that bring you joy, work hard, play hard, give, look for the silver linings and laugh, even if you have to fake it or force it, it will become real.

That’s the short answer. For the record, I prefer the word “key” instead of “secret”. It’s not a secret, everyone knows this. But knowing and doing are two different things. The real question is how to implement the keys to joy, IMHO”
–My Step-Dad

“Being able to be at peace in and with every aspect of life.  Never settling, but truly at peace.  Accepting what was, what is and what is to come.  Joy is the deepest of gratification and isn’t typically obtained easily, however it IS obtainable.  PEACE is the answer.  And oh what an immense pleasure it is to have both!”

What I learned was that joy was not quantifiable. Or monolithic. Joy was small tangible things like currency and joy was big abstract things like God, joy was an ideal and a verb. It both happened and could be stumbled upon, given the correct set of circumstances. Whatever the recipe, joy was an experience that every person I asked could recount. That’s what made me smile on my day three. Was that joy could even be recalled in the remembrance of joy. Which makes me think that maybe it’s closer than I imagine. More simple even than gratitude or love. Maybe joy is also in being. In connecting. In knowing AND unknowing. Maybe joy just is. And sometimes when we have sense enough we tune into it.

And to my friends and family, thank you for sharing your joy with me.


2 thoughts on “Day 3: Joy 

  1. Hey there! I randomly found your blog through a few clicks off of Pinterest and just wanted to tell you that you are a truly talented and poetic writer. I’m not sure if you intended for this blog and these personal experiences to have an effect on someone in another geographical location, but you have managed to bring a few tears to my eye. I’m grateful that you are courageous enough to share your thoughts so candidly. Your writing has managed to bring forth many things that I have felt unable to find and express within myself, and for that I thank you. Take care & God bless!

    another Jess

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I never know who might be touched by my words. Truly it’s my therapy that I just share with the world. Mostly because I hated the feeling of thinking it’s just me. I’m happy my experiences were able to be cathartic for you. Thanks for reading and be well.

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