Grab ahold of joy and don’t let go


For The Beachcomber

All throughout our lives we set goals for ourselves. We start out with simple things like learning to read and to ride a bike; then we move on to bigger things — go to college, get a good job, start a family, retire early, help my kids go to college, hope they get a good job and can retire early (a pattern emerges).

These are things that are measurable and attainable. We value them partly because we can track our progress. These are good goals. The problem I have is that we value them as things to be checked off a list and not as things to be enjoyed. I can’t tell you how many people I have seen work hard their whole life so that they can travel and do things when they retire, but by the time they get there they are too tired to enjoy it.

We wear ourselves out checking things off our societal to-do list, and we don’t give ourselves a chance to pause or to seek joy within our daily living. We don’t usually think of joy as a value. We think of joy as something that just happens. We like it and we hope to experience it, but we don’t see it as a value to be sought after.

I believe that if we cannot find joy in what we do, we should not be doing it. We should pursue joy and let it energize us. I am not talking about taking vacations (although most of us don’t do a great job using our vacation days either); I am talking about having joy in our everyday things.

Is there joy in the work that you do? If not, why not?

There are lots of ways to measure this. I know a family that works nights cleaning, and the joy they find isn’t in the work itself, but in the flexibility that it allows them to do other things. There are people like my wife who enjoy analyzing data. Still others love their job in sales because they get to interact with people. A friend of mine is a realtor and loves the feeling of helping people find a home they can call their own. You don’t have to have a “fun” job to find joy in it. There is joy in working at something you are interested in or passionate about, but only if you choose to recognize it.

Beyond our jobs, how often do we choose to get together with friends? Take in a movie with our significant other? Play a game with our family? Read a book? Sit around and do nothing? Whatever it is that brings you joy, how often do you make that a priority? How many of us just wait for an opportunity every couple of weeks, once a month or just every once in a while when we can do what brings us joy.

I was with someone the other day who looked at my bookshelf and asked, “How do you find time to read all this?” The answer is that I make time because reading brings me joy. Too often joy is just what we do if there is time. We value money, and we value things — perhaps hoping that they will bring us joy. But then we get caught up in things and miss so many of life’s opportunities in the pursuit of stuff.

Joy is a state of being, or at least it should be. Joy is that which we delight in, and to me it is a value. I believe that we were created for joy. I believe that life is simply better when we are intentional about our “pursuit of happiness.” I believe we shouldn’t just find time; we should make time to enjoy life’s little pleasures. I believe there is good in every moment if we choose to see it that way. I believe that we should never pass-up an opportunity to experience joy.

Most of all I believe that we shouldn’t wait for joy; we should grab ahold of it and never let go.

— Rev. Darryn Hewson is the minister at the Vashon United Methodist Church.

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