“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
“If we can just let go and trust that things will work out they way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.”
We did consider changing today’s “value” for another word. Why? Because the chosen word for today was “joyfulness”.
There’s nothing wrong with the word “joyfulness”. We should certainly value joyfulness, especially at this time of the year. We should bring “Joy to the World” and we should consider how we can bring some joy into the lives of those who may have struggled to be joyful. Joyfulness is an important aspect of life. Without joy, then life is hard.
But is “joyfulness” a value in itself or is it a feeling that we value? Or is it a virtue? There’s a subtle but important difference.
Joyfulness is a feeling, a response, either to something that someone else has done or a sense of spiritual wellbeing. We are full of joyfulness when we consider the good things in life; the things that we value. So yes, we should certainly value joyfulness.
This is yet another demonstration of how careless we can sometimes be with words. We sometimes use words that we think mean one thing but when we consider them more carefully they are inappropriate. We interchange words like “values” and “virtues”, thinking they have the same meaning when in actual fact they are quite different.
Virtues are a common set of principles or qualities of character that are meaningful to all humanity, whereas values are more personal; a personal belief system. Values are what you give “value” or importance to in life. For example, you can have two people living virtuously but they have different values.
Look at religion. Here we have people of faith who arguably live virtuously but their values can be extremely different. Look at the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism through the ages. Centuries ago, one part of the Christian community felt that the only way to receive the scriptures was through the language of Latin, whereas the others felt that the mother tongue of individual nations was more appropriate to the masses. Both were being virtuous but they had different values. Similarly today, there are parts of the church who embrace women priests and others who don’t, yet all are trying to live virtuously. They just have a different set of values.
One could even argue that there are members of parliament on both sides of the house who aim to live a virtuous life and have virtuous thoughts about how we can change the world for the better. They believe completely in what they are doing and don’t intend to bring harm to anyone else, yet they value different things and therefore go about their tasks in different ways.
It’s virtuous to serve one’s country. It’s virtuous to believe in helping others, but there may be different values to uphold in doing that.
Look at yesterday’s word: ’empathy’. So many times we confuse this word with “sympathy”, and yet they are completely different.
The difficulty with differentiating between a value and a virtue is exacerbated by the fact that you can have a virtue that is also a value, by the mere fact that we value virtues! Contentment is a virtue that all humanity would like, but it’s also a value that we personally hold dear for ourselves. We value the effect and the feeling of contentment.
So is joy a value or a virtue? Or is it a feeling? What of the relationship between values and feelings? We value feelings and sometimes we feel the values.
Another word that is often mis-used and is very dear to our hearts is “intelligence”.
We often hear people say, “That man is really intelligent” when what they actually mean is “That man is really knowledgeable and very intellectual.” Intelligence is far greater than one’s ability to think, hypothesise and relate their knowledge to others. Intelligence is also about knowing yourself, and knowing and appreciating others. It’s about recognising that there are times when we should behave instinctively, without thinking. It’s about living virtuously with a clear set of values. It’s about the ability to be creative, imaginative, thoughtful, considerate, amongst other things . . . but perhaps we ought to leave this for another time.
And then there’s “emotional”. That’s another word that we use quite often – but what is its true meaning? Is it good to be “emotional” or are our true emotions quite complicated and destructive? We say “emotional” when sometimes we ought to be saying “feeling” instead. Again, we will leave this for another time.
So what has happened to joyfulness?
Of course we should embrace joy. We should endeavour to bring joy to our own lives and those of others. When joy is lacking in life, it’s a sorry state where purpose seems to elude you. So today, perhaps we could all consider how we can bring joy into the world so that we can work and live together in harmony, appreciating goodness and concentrating on the positive aspects of life to instil a sense of wellbeing – in ourselves and others.
Today, let’s make a concerted effort to bring even a small touch of joyfulness to someone who you know will appreciate a sparkle of life from your thoughtfulness. Empathise with the tired shopkeeper who has said “Merry Christmas” to every customer and hasn’t heard it in return. Send a text message to someone who isn’t expecting a message from you. Smile at a stranger and see what joy that can bring. Share a story with a loved one, and see the joy on their faces.
Be joyful and see just how much of your joy can impact on other people.
“There are those that give with joy, and that joy is their reward.”
“Joy delights in joy.”