I’ve spent time this week contemplating my list of 20 things I like to do from Monday’s blog post. David Brooks in The Second Mountain says that “happiness is good, but joy is better. Just as the second mountain is a fuller and richer phase of life after the first mountain, joy is a fuller and richer state beyond happiness…The more you are living a committed life well, the more joy will be your steady state, the frame of mind you carry around with you and shine on others.” David talks about four levels of joy: 1) physical, 2) collective effervescence, 3) emotional, and 4) spiritual.
I’m looking at my list again and I’m digging deeper. Do these activities bring me real joy or just the happiness of a goal accomplished or praise received? True joy is when a skin barrier between me and another person or entity fades away and we feel fused together. David reminds us: “We can create happiness, but we are seized by joy.” Brooks says for him, writing is joyful; he can feel his heart rate slow when he writes. I find the same thing happens with my “joy pursuits”, my heart rate slows and a sense of peace engulfs me.
My “joy” list, grouped into Brooks’ four level of joys:
Physical Joy: Walking/Exercise, Bicycling, Golf, Swimming
Collective Effervescence: Travel, Giving Docent Tours at the Frist Art Museum, Working with young people (post-college)
Emotional Joy: Symphony concerts, Plays and Broadway Musicals, Learning Spanish
Spiritual Joy: Praying, Worship, Episcopal Monastery Visits, Playing with my dog, Photography, Listening to music/concerts, Writing, Wine/Dinner with Friends, Reading
Each day is an opportunity for us to experience joy in our life. Some days joy is delivered to us, and on other days we have to be more intentional to recognize it among the mundane. But each 24 hours is a crucible for joy.
In the past 24 hours, I’ve had joy when Walking, Working with Young People, Praying, Listening to music, and Writing.
I wonder what the next 24 hours will bring for you and me? Will we choose to live it in joy, or will we settle for less?
Blessings, my friend,