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  • Writer's pictureH. Rick Goff

The Joy Button

A few months ago, I was involved in a discussion with a dear friend on the topic of joy and happiness. It was not so much a conversation on the difference between the two or even their definitions. It was more a discussion on the experiences of joy and happiness. What brings joy? What brings happiness? How do you recognize joy? How do you recognize happiness? I argued that joy is a short-term emotion while happiness is more of a long-term proposition. Of course, I based my argument on my personal experiences. I feel joy when I see a beautiful sunset or sunrise, walk on a sandy beach, see a well-defined rainbow, or witness a magnificent sight like the Grand Canyon. But my happiness is a personal narrative that is controlled by my life choices and who and what I allow to influence me. My friend and I didn't resolve anything about joy and happiness, but we concluded they are both attainable and the keys to a fulfilling life.

I think things that bring joy are in the moment and happen whether we notice them or not! We have little to no control over the moments of joy short of just being in the right place at the right time. The key is to be self-aware and cognizant of our surroundings enough to recognize and appreciate these magic moments when they present themselves. Moments of joy help us see the beauty and all the good in life and living. I remember once watching a hummingbird darting from flower to flower. I could hardly see its wings and it barely made any sound (at least none that my ears could hear). It suddenly stopped in midair, looked at me, and literally disappeared into thin air as it quickly flew away. It was an innocent moment of pure joy as I watched the hummingbird being a hummingbird. Watching and experiencing nature is the catalyst for much of my joy. When I hike trails or see an amazing site, it touches my joy button and gives me that sense of peace and total self-awareness that I need to sustain me. Watching a sunrise peek over the ocean horizon, a sunset settling over a mountain range, ocean waves crashing against the shore, or even falling leaves being blown around by the wind, all of these things press my joy button.

We all have those places, times, songs, and even people that touch our joy button. That place where we lose ourselves in thought and find the ever elusive inner peace, those times when the stars seem to line up and everything seems to come together, that song that puts us in our happy place, and those people that just exude joy when we see them or hear their voices. They all bring real joy and help us ground ourselves in good. We should never take a moment of joy for granted because it can quickly disappear into thin air just like my hummingbird friend. Life and living are challenging enough at times but when our joy button is engaged--all is right with our world!

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