In defense of JOY

My word for 2019… JOY!

That is it. I don’t choose my word of the year lightly. In fact, I think
about it on and off for a few months, asking, “What do I need right
now? It is time for... what?” Joy. I am finding it funny and a little
perplexing that I am feeling defensive about this choice.

While trying to decide on a word, JOY was popping up every-
where last week. A lovely lady named Mary at Target was in a bulls-
eye t-shirt screen-printed “joy." A huge billboard in Minneapolis
said, “FEEL THE JOY, SELL YOUR HOUSE AS IS.” Even though
cynicism about joy may have a connection to the manipulation of
advertising, I was delighted when the word JOY popped up in well-
designed places. Then, I kid you not, as a gift last week, my sister-
in-law gave me a refrigerator magnet that literally says "Choose Joy."
So, I did!

Joy is the opposite of my least favorite words: greed, hate, shame,
hopelessness, fear, cynicism, and despair. Yet, JOY is such a simple
word, all too often overlooked. (Joy, really? What am I, 12? Maybe
My word of the year should be Glitter! Or, Juicy! But, for the record,
12-year-olds are some of the wisest people I know, who bring me
joy in teaching.)

Joy is an antidote. There are serious problems and suffering in the
world. The opposite of joy (see list above) seems to cause more
suffering. Yet, why am I cynical about joy? Pure JOY, not based on
material stuff, is so simple in this over-complicated, overstuffed life.
Seeing joy in others is a huge source of hope and inspiration, but we
hesitate to truly embrace it. Brene' Brown (really, I do read other
authors too) said, “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy
becomes foreboding.” In other words, we don't want to lose what
gives us joy, so we imagine losing it during the height of joy.
What is wrong with us? For instance, I’m grateful for joyful family
time during Christmas, joy so intense while singing 'Joy to the
World' I went from joyful-bursty-heart to heavy-I-don't-want-
anything-bad-to happen-to-these-people and back to bursty again
in 5 seconds flat.

So, I guess to truly embrace joy, you must be vulnerable. More
joy (and vulnerability) coming up. We all deserve it!