As I was thinking about writing about joy today I paused to think about how we use the word joy in our lives today. We don’t typically say “I feel joyful” or “I am full of joy” or “That makes me joyful.” Joy just isn’t a word we use frequently in our conversations. So why do we talk about it at Christmas? What is joy anyway?
Dictionary.com defines joy as “a deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment” and “something causing a feeling; a source of happiness” So what is joy really anyway?
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy said, “Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.”
True joy is much bigger than being happy, a little feeling inside you, or doing the right things. True joy is felt only when you’ve been in service to others. This is one of the reasons we talk about it so much at Christmas, because (in Bible-based traditions) Jesus came to earth completely for the purpose of being of service to us, and therefore brought great joy to those in his earthly life (and countless people since).
You can’t find joy through buying things, you can’t find joy through creating things for yourself, and you can’t find joy without being committed to really making a difference in other people’s lives.
Sadly, we’ve really gotten far from sharing and experiencing joy. This Christmas season, take the advice of Jesus and Tolstoy and focus on being of true service to someone other than yourself. Not only will it make a difference in their life, you will also feel joy.
I would love to hear your thoughts on joy below!