How would you describe your relationship with Joy? I think we experience it in layers:
There is a baseline innate Joy that rests in us. It's the same source that makes babies smile at six weeks and prods children to skip instead of walk. We may not skip regularly, but we each know this open-hearted place of warmth when we are in it.
There is layer of Joy that is transparent. It's a window that we select. And when we look through it, we consciously define the light and energy of Joy that we invite in, moment by moment. This Joy is a place we operate out of and a muscle of gratitude that we can strengthen.
There is a Joy that's 'out there'; that we yearn for, seek, remember, wait for and or create. This layer can be applied. But like paint, it may not turn out to be exactly as expected and may start to chip. It can be based on true desires, like "I need a nap to be more joyful." It can also involve the waiting game, "I'll be happier when . . . "
There is Joy that is delivered to us on a silver platter and sometimes ripped out from under us with no warning. Some may call this layer blessings, luck, karma, destiny, fate. It can feel unsettling either way because we recognize it's not within our control.
And there is a societal layer of Joy that defines how much we need and at the same time, telling us to feel guilty when we seek too much. You know . . . the advertisement telling you to take a cruise versus the two weeks of vacation you actually have banked. And some cultures are more joy-centered than others.
So to me, Joy has many layers, each seeming to get more complex, less accurate, and easier to get caught up in.
True Joy is our deepest layer; which may explain why it seems so hard to find. It's the one we are born with. It is pure, constant, and closest to our heart and soul. It feeds us when we let it.
If you aren't sure how to connect with this source of Joy, try paying attention to your senses: the shift that happens when you listen to 'good' music, the smell of dinner cooking, the feel of clean sheets. Hang out with a child. Children actually live in a state of joy naturally because they are in the present. Try taking a deep breath and smiling . . . for no reason. It can be that simple.
PS. Try holding it a little longer next time. It really does wonders.