The short version of this post is that being joyful is hard work.
And if you dismiss someone spreading the joyful vibe as being a slacker, you try it for awhile. I'm not talking about after you win the lottery or hit some emotional jackpot. Skyrocketed by some external and short-lived impetus.
I'm talking day in and day out, when it's hurricaning and then blizzarding and all of your kids are miserable and you receive sad phone call after rejection notice after lonely spell. Loss, illness, disappointment, aging. When you're joyful then, perhaps you understand: Being joyful is challenging.
If I sound testy, it's because I'm bewildered and feeling misunderstood, and ok, under appreciated. People constantly express the collective yearning for joy and happiness. For living in sunny emotional climes surrounded by delightful people and pleasant circumstance.
Yet, time after time in context after context I hear and feel the dismissal of a joyful practice. As if those of us who are choosing to be positive are taking the easy route. Shallow slackers. Being superficial, self-indulgent, not worthy of serious attention. Only having fun. Like we're on vacation when others are hard at work. Really?
Heck, I can do depression, drama, competitiveness, angst, and anxiety with my pinky finger and without breaking a sweat. But I'd prefer my life read like a book mainly about beauty and creativity and love. I'd really rather my legacy be a net gain to the universe.
Oh, yes, the dark themes are all there alright. I'm just working hard to focus on the light.
Remember that passage from The Desiderata by Max Ehrmann: "Strive to be happy...." I remember reading that and not really understanding what he was talking about. STRIVE to be happy? Aren't we either happy or not, happiness happening to us or not?
I've come to understand, at least when I can manage being somewhat evolved, that we each have an ongoing choice. We've got this constant stream of stuff thrown at us, obstructing and complicating our path. Things happening to those we care about deeply, and to the world at large. We constantly have to craft a sense of who we are and how we relate to our experiences, our context. Basically, the challenge is whether to choose happiness or joy or enthusiasm or optimism or openness or laughter--or their alternatives.
I still can't always seem to select the positive energy, but I'm working on it. Because choosing joy seems to make the world a shinier place. A place where I'd like to be and have my loved ones hang out--and thrive. You and yours, too,
So, the next time you see me dancing joyfully or see me wearing my Santa Hat instead of a scowl, I hope you won't dismiss it and me as inconsequential fluff. Lacking gravitas. Lacking worth.
I hope you'll breathe in the positive vibe, maybe even be inspired by it. Know there's an intention involved. And effort, oh, yes, effort and sweat and tears. Know that even though I may be blinking back those tears, I'm working my tail off to choose the dance of joy. Choosing to focus on joy--and love. And that's work, baby, hard work.