In the Navajo tradition, a child’s birthday
is a celebration of the first time that child laughs.
At that moment, the Navajo believe, the child’s soul attaches to the body.
~Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
I love the idea that joy is what integrates us; that joy is at the core of our being. Joy is a feeling of great delight. As such, it isn’t something I feel all the time. It’s a “high” emotion as opposed to the “low” I feel when depressed. When I feel joyful, I feel connected—to myself, to someone else, to nature, or to God. It’s a feeling I want to share but it’s also a feeling I want to hold on to. I want it to continue or to return with the same intensity if I do the same action. Of course, that’s not what emotions do. They come and go, and the same event won’t elicit the same degree of intensity as experiencing something the first time.
Nonetheless, I can be on the look-out for opportunities to experience joy and create the space in which it might occur. Things that often spark joy for me include making surprises for others, receiving something unexpected and thoughtful from someone, watching my grandchildren laugh, and seeing the night sky. At some deep level, joy is related is being seen and safe in the moment. When I feel accepted, I feel free to laugh and have fun. That openness makes it more likely that I will find something delightful. When I can extend that same acceptance and freedom to others, they can let go of their fears of being judged or misunderstood to find delight and joy as well. Joy can’t be forced, but I can act in such a way that I—and others around me—are more likely to feel it. May this day spark joy for you!