The Biggest Misconceptions About Joy
One of the most important things that we aren’t ever taught but need to practice is joy. Most of us have gone through at least 12 years of schooling but never truly learned the importance of practicing joy because there were no classes about it. I compiled this list of misconceptions about joy because I think we’re all in need of a re-introduction to what joy is and what it should look like:
Misconception #1: Joy is an “every now and then” type thing
Though our parents and teachers would tell us to remember to let loose and “have fun,” joy was always presented as a feeling that we could only achieve every once in a while if we’re lucky instead of a state of being that we can and should be actively working toward. Joy should not be something that you only engage in at the end of your long day. You need to reprioritize the aspects of your life that make joy seem like a trivial task and shape your daily life around what brings you the most relative joy.
Misconception #2: Joy is everything entertaining
Joy is not the stuff you do to waste time. Did you feel icky after binging all eight seasons of The Office? Yes, you may have had fun in the moment—but how did you feel afterward? We often define joy as what brings us the most immediate surges of happiness and excitement so much so that we forget to examine how certain activities leave us feeling when they end. At its core, joy is doing the activities and surrounding yourself with people that refuel you and build you up.
Misconception #3: Joy is unattainable for many
Though it is optimal to shape your life around what makes you happy as I mentioned earlier, that might not be practical for you. And that’s okay because we can all still find and incorporate joy in different facets of our lives without just finding it “in the little things.” If you do not have the financial stability to follow your passions professionally, look to find joy in your relationships with yourself, other people, or in new hobbies.
We also cannot disregard our agency when it comes to creating joy, especially since joy isn’t something that stays permanently once we find it. We have to be in active pursuit of what new values, people, or endeavors maximize our happiness because what brings us joy changes as we grow.
If you aren’t joyful in your personal, professional, or spiritual life, then that’s a sign that maybe it’s time for a change. Whatever that change means is different for everyone because we’re all unique and get fueled by different things. What matters is that you have the drive and persistence to pursue joy whenever you can.
I hope that by crafting a picture of what joy isn’t, I have given you a clearer picture of what it is. Now, you just have to do the work to figure out what joy actually entails for you.