I am lucky that on a weekly basis I get to witness something I have come to recognize as essential to a good life; joy. I'm not necessarily talking about the joy that your God gives you or the joy even a husband or wife can give each other. Not even the joy that witnessing your first child being born can give you is transcendent if you don't allow it to be. The joy I see is only possible when it comes from within. It's a choice to embrace unadulterated, unfiltered, and unfettered happiness. To exude and experience pure joy is, I think, a key to a good life. It's important to allow God, big moments, other people and those good things in life to move you to a higher place than you were before. It's not that simple happiness isn't good enough, and it's not to discount positive moments presented to us by the world but the choice to feel joy and be elevated by it is something that can't be made for us. I see happy people all the time who still seem like they are missing something. Happiness compared to joy is like contentment compared to excitement. Both are ok but one will take you places beyond the status quo.
There is a certain kind of excitement, passion and radiance that joy adds to the world. Simply being happy is a more personal, individual thing that is less contagious. To allow yourself to experience the world's gifts and expect that they will move you to a place where passion intersects spirituality is a key to everything good in life.
I see this in the couples I am fortunate enough to work with. I see joy radiating from them and when the priest, pastor or officiant talks about never forgetting to say I love you, I think a better interpretation of the sentiment would be to never allow joy to leave your life. Foster within you a need to feel the intense goodness of the life you live and in return your life will continue to reward you with more to feel that way about.
The very best marriages, I believe, are those where joy is so clearly present. It only takes a few moments in the presence of an old married couple to realize that while they will say communication is the key to a long, happy marriage, the truth often is held in the sparkle in their eyes and the smile that still touches their lips as they do their communicating. It's not the words they say but the joy they give and receive that makes the difference.
When we lose our ability to feel and present joy to the world, we lose our ability to love and that is surely no way to live.
So let's all vow to be conveyor of joy this holiday season. It could change the world if only in our little corner of it :)
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and with any luck at all, a joy-filled 2012 - Robert McClory