Celebrating Ma’at: Joy

I have been MIA for the past few days. I went to a wedding, and had no internet for the past week.

During this time, one of the virtues I focused on was joy. During the mass at the wedding, the priest talked about joy, and how joy can be (and, he said, must be) found within. Essentially, we cannot hope to feel true and lasting joy from the world around us. While births and parties and new opportunities, can make us happy for a while, the true source of joy comes from within. We must cultivate joy in our hearts, and if we do this, joy can be found not only in the births and parties and new opportunities, but it can carry us through hard times as well. It was at this point that he brought up how a joyful marriage can add to this inner joy and provide some support in those rough times.

The idea that true joy comes from within was something I hadn’t thought of in a while. I focus frequently on getting my work done and accomplishing my degree…and while that accomplishment will be something to celebrate, the joy I experience doesn’t come from the degree itself. I feel like we often say, “I can be happy once…” “I can be happy once I graduate.” “I can be happy when I get my first job.” “I can be happy once I am healed.” “I can be happy once I am married.” “I can be happy once I am divorced.”

While some circumstances certainly lend themselves to joy or misery (and I do think that some circumstances can make inner joy improbable if not impossible), one can have everything they need to be happy and yet still be sad. I’m not talking about clinical depression. It takes more than attitude to cope with depression. I am talking about an inner peace, one that allows us to be joyful when the time is right (and sometimes even when the time is wrong). I am talking about the self-knowledge and self-awareness that can lead to a better understanding of the self and world. I am talking about joy from simple pleasures as well as major accomplishments. I am talking about the type of joy that allows us to content with our current lot in life, but also pushes us to aim for more not out of greed, but out of development and discipline.

Where does this joy stem from? I think it comes from appreciation and attitude. Learning to see the world in a realistic but still positive manner. Realizing what you have, and coming to peace with how far you need to go. It’s not about being complacent. It’s about realizing that nothing external can “make” you happy before you come to peace with yourself and find beauty in the world…despite the ugliness within it.

May you all find joy.

 

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