Finding joy is like finding
that your missing eyeglasses were on your head all the
Our human urge is to think we
must search for joy or pursue it along some twisting
path. But the more effort we put into the task, the more
joy eludes us.
Down through the ages, wise and
inspired leaders have found joy in just one
And yet joy was not what they
were after. What they were after, like the person with
missing eyeglasses, was the ability to see.
Which translates into this:
Joy is not a cause. It is a
You don’t so much find joy.
It finds you.
Of course, what is joy?
Is it heaven, is it happiness,
is it ecstasy?
Perhaps the simplest way to
envision joy is to see it as something that comes with a
sense of fulfillment.
I mean the fulfillment—even
if it’s imperfect or incomplete—of whatever we’re
committed to or have as our purpose or goal. It may be
successful parenthood, devotion to another, occupational
success, or any other of a myriad reasons why we go from
day to day on this earth and make a life.
You do a good thing well, you’re
Joy is the consequence, the
result, the reward.
I say this, not because I am so
wise. In my life, I’ve gone down all kinds of wrong
paths. In time, I found that just about all that
happened to me, so far as I could determine, happened
because of my mind set.
That led me, as a writer, to
start rewriting my purpose in life, starting with my
mind. Isn’t that where it all starts?
What I did was to write
affirmations (positive, creative meditations, if you
will). If I was angry, or jealous, or lonely, or
fearful, or compulsive, or bored—whatever the problem,
I found there was an antidote, a whole opposite way of
looking at the problem. In fact, as wise folks have said
through the ages, the solution is always in the problem.
In the end, I wrote what many
people call positive mind treatments for dozens of
personal problems I confronted over time, plus several
more that are common to most people.
Now, this kind of approach is
criticized by some as pure and simple "happy
talk." They see it as nothing more than Pollyanna
stuff. Well, better that than nothing or than constant
nay saying. But, "happy talk," I agree, is
hardly the answer.
I concluded that no positive
mind treatment could be effective just because I wrote
that everything was OK. Indeed, I recognized that just
about all the words of the wise in human history turned
out to have been inspired by a power greater than they
They found that the strength
and motivation to overcome was the power of life itself,
of universal intelligence or mind of which we are the
With that kind of cosmic power
plant, one can count on spiritual strength to overcome
any concern whatever encountered on the human level. And
so my affirmations, I found, had the full backing of a
force that, unseen, could be felt convincingly and
effectively in helping replace what had concerned me.
Evidently, a publisher felt
likewise. The result was the book, SOUL TALK, which
appeared a few years ago.
So now, I keep talking to
myself, usually in writing, or silently or at least out
of others’ earshot, to try to sort out my human
frailties and foibles and put them in the perspective of
some universal intelligence or power or life force. And
in doing so, I find myself asked to write a piece like
All I can say is what I said at
the beginning. In other words, joy is no different from
the way Thomas Jefferson saw it. In the Declaration of
Independence, you remember, he called it happiness. Our
right as citizens of our new nation, he wrote, was
"the pursuit of happiness"—not joy itself
but freedom to think and say and do what leads to it.
And what else could that be but
to follow our star?
Words of the Wise
and saints have been writing about joy for centuries.
St. Paul, in a letter
to the Galatians, wrote: "The fruit of the Spirit
is love, joy, peace," plus several virtues. What
that means, according to a modern translation, is that
joy, etcetera come to us when we let Spirit control our
Two millennia later,
that plain-speaking playwright, George Bernard Shaw,
wrote: "This is the true joy in life, the being
used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty
In between, the image
of joy was outlined by observers as many persuasions.
century poet William Blake pronounced these succinct
words of wisdom:
"Love to faults
is always blind,
Always is to joy
inclined. . . ."
That was followed
shortly afterward by the even more succinct statement of
the British writer, John Ruskin:
labor is base."
Then, of course, his
contemporary, John Keats, told the world: "A thing
of beauty is a joy forever."
And his other
contemporary, Percy Bysshe Shelley, attributed joy to
life itself, with these words:
"To suffer woes…to
forgive wrongs…to defy Power, to love, and bear…to
hope till Hope creates from its own wreck the thing it
contemplates--this alone, Life, Joy."
To top it off, Alfred
Lord Tennyson told us in the closing years of the 19th
century: "There is no joy but calm."
Copyright© 2000 Hubert
Hubert Pryor is a retired magazine
editor and writer. He is the former editor-in-chief of
Modern Maturity. He was the editorial director most
recently of Arthritis Today. In earlier years, he was
editor of Science Digest, and a senior editor of Look
magazine. He lives in South Palm Beach, Florida, where
he is a free-lance writer and editor. His book,
SOUL TALK is available from DeVorss & Company, P.O.
Box 550, Marina del Rey, CA 90294. Phone: (800)
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