“Trust me, real joy is a serious thing. Do you think someone can, in the charming expression, blithely dismiss death with an easy disposition? Or swing open the door to poverty, keep pleasures in check, or meditate on the endurance of suffering? The one who is comfortable with turning those thoughts over is truly full of joy, but hardly cheerful. It’s exactly such a joy that I would wish for you to possess, for it will never run dry once you’ve laid claim to its source.”
Seneca, Moral, Letters, 23.4
We throw around the word “joy” casually. “I’m overjoyed at the news.” “She’s a joy to be around.” “It’s a joyous occasion.” But none of those examples really touches on true joy. They are closer to “cheer” than anything else. Cheerfulness is surface level.
“Joy is a deep state of being. It is what we feel inside us and has little to do with smiles or laughing. So when people say that the Stoics are dour or depressive, they’re really missing the point. Who cares if someone is bubbly when times are good? What kind of accomplishment is that?
Can you be fully content with your life, can you bravely face what life has in store from one day to the next, can you bounce back from every kind of adversity without losing a step, can you be a source of strength and inspiration to others around you? That’s Stoic Joy -- the joy that comes from purpose, excellence, and duty. It’s a serious thing-- far more serious than a smile or a chipper voice. “
These exerpts from my co-teacher's philosophy book really impacted me today. I haven't shared much on this blog because I've been living life at such a high capacity, that I haven't been able to process with words much lately. I have, however been experiencing this deep kind of Stoic Joy the above text speaks of.
My days are filled with beautiful moments of seemingly pure joy. I live in a tropical paradise in Costa Rica, I am surrounded by an amazing community of people, working my dream jobs: teaching art, the Bible, and English at and elementary school, hosting international guests at my Airbnb art house and beachfront villas, as well as a few other side projects.
...Life is but a dream….
It may be hard to believe, but the dream is a little difficult to manage at times. Living in cheerfulness is a challange to maintain 24/7 when my aim is to make so many others cheerful. I have to be mindful to maintain my joy. I have to be reminded that the source of joy is infinite.
It is helpful to know that joy is not the fleeting happiness or pleasure I feel from a delicious lobster dinner or laughing paint sessions with pre-schoolers. Those things are pleasurable and I enjoy them at times but my infinite source of joy is a deep rooted faith in a God that created, loves, and sustains me. It is a hope in the promises I have in Him. Sometimes stoic and strong, joy can be as present in my tears as my smile. Although there are a million things and experiences that make me happy, true joy is eternal. Joy is the foundation that moments of happiness are built upon. A foundation built over years of highs and lows of happy cheerfulness.
I am not always cheerful, but I am always joyful. I thank God for that. Gratitude fills my heart for all the gracefilled moments of my days.
I hope to spread this truth of joy to others. I hope that it infiltrates my home, classroom, art, writing, work, and interactions with friends and strangers.
I hope that as you read this, you too, are filled with joy. ❤️