Thoughts About Joy

The rain shower ended nearly as suddenly as it had started. The Sun was unveiled from the grey clouds and the aroma of ozone filled the air. I glanced towards the east and noticed a partial arc of a rainbow. The sight of the partial rainbow against the storm-grey clouds filled me with awe. As my vision skimmed the neighborhood, the wetness had deepened the colors of the buildings, cars, and vegetation. At times like these, nature seems to tell me to wake up and feel the joy.

There is a subtle difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is akin to contentment while joy is the state of mind that exceeds happiness. Joy is something that is difficult to define. Thrill comes close, but is not quite accurate. The process of analyzing joy reduces the level of joy. It’s best not to evaluate joy when it happens. All I can determine is that we can initiate happiness, but joy appears almost as an emotional whim or reaction. The explanation is far more complicated than than the experience of joy.

In simpler terms, joy is a celebration of life. The creator of the original Rainbow Flag, Gilbert Baker knew this by heart. He stated, “We needed something to express our joy, our beauty, our power. And the rainbow did that.” The banner has become a symbol of our community’s struggles and joys in every nation on Earth. It was once even launched into the upper atmosphere by weather balloon.

“He who binds to himself a joy Does the winged life destroy; But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity’s sunrise.”–William Blake

It has been noted that people who serve society in some measure have increased their capacity for happiness and have more moments of joy. Such people seem to have a positive determination to work towards furthering their inspiring purpose, the ability to maintain full integrity, and an appreciation for life in all of its forms.

“There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.”–Aeschylus

Aeschylus pointed out that joy can be bittersweet. Whether in the process of grieving the loss of a loved one or in getting lost in nostalgia. This reminds us that joy cannot be manufactured nor willfully brought about by incantation. When we try to induce joy, the resulting emotion feels somewhat hollow and forced; euphoria is the likely result. Euphoria is the endocrine sibling of joy, while nostalgia is its mental cousin. Joy is experience in the present moment.

Basically, life brings us periods of struggle, intersperced with tragedy, and brightened with accomplishment. Recounting these various aspects of life, we can contemplate the art of living and focus on the simple pleasures such as the joy of noticing the arc of a rainbow upon the backdrop of the storm-grey sky.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Vietnamese Zen monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. “Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, philosophy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Thoughts About Joy

  1. bloom|time says:

    My best pride day was visiting my (gay) uncle in Taiwan – – unforgettable parade. He’s been open his whole life. A courageous man who lost more than one teaching position (he’s a phd), and ended up living abroad.

  2. Jeff Flesch says:

    So very true, Jay. Beautifully written, as always. A joy, indeed, to read.

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