What is the Joy of Life?
Everyone is born with it. When we are children everything feels new and exciting. We can quickly rebound from most upsets and find joy in the smallest of things. We yearn for this feeling of contentment as adults. We often say, “I feel like a kid again.” to describe our emotional response when something has made us very happy. Why do we feel this way early in life?
In most cases, we are not aware of whether or not we need anything, we have few responsibilities, and can focus on joy as it comes to us in any form. There are not as many social etiquette guidelines that we are aware of to follow. The world is open to us, and we have a sense of wonder.
How is it possible for people living in tribal villages, those who have so little, to be some of the most joyous people in the world? People who depend upon each other and live primarily off of the land report levels of satisfaction and quality of life far higher than those reported in western society. Income, social status, and where we live only account or 10% of our happiness.
More money doesn’t equate to a happier life. It’s everything else about our lives that bring us joy.
The things that truly bring joy to our lives have naturally been a part of us since the beginning of our species. Doing and feeling the things that made it possible for humans to survive together, floods our system with a feeling of joy. This is by design; we are made to work together and to truly enjoy the process. When people bring support, love, laughter, and assistance to each other, everyone becomes stronger and happier.
Altruism is a concept that must be felt to be understood. It is not doing a good deed to receive something in return, for the hope that it will come back to you in any way, or to be seen as being charitable. This is true inner peace and elation, a gift you receive by giving of yourself to others. The things that inherently bring us joy are altruistic in nature. When giving your own time, labor, and support, it costs you nothing, while building up the lives of those around you. When contributing to another person’s happiness, endeavors, or family, the feeling we experience is meant to be a special joy that we want to replicate as often as possible.
Community was, and in many ways still is, essential for the survival of our species. Cooperation is programmed to be intrinsically rewarding to humans. Even in our competition-driven society, groups of people, when given the choice, still choose to work together rather than compete. That says a lot about who we truly are as a species. Feeling responsible for someone’s well-being provides a much-needed sense of connection to the people around us.
In ancient times humans could not survive without a small community. Everyone was responsible for a particular aspect of keeping the community running smoothly. This forms connections between people on a spiritual level.
The happiest of people form and maintain close bonded relationships.
When we can relate to someone on a deep level, we begin to crave interaction with them. Our lives are made better when we invest in our relationships.
The spirit soars when we have a real purpose — an emotionally-driven reason to be. Self-improvement, learning, and free time to explore our passions are all part of finding our purpose. Humans are individual conscious creatures, and what we are passionate about is as diverse as we are. The brilliant mind of an artist holds endless creative ideas, just waiting for inspiration to be brought to the surface. Caregivers have an inner drive to assist their fellow man in walking through life. A teacher yearns for a hungry mind to impart their hard-won knowledge upon. A patriarch feels deep satisfaction when helping his family thrive. When we know our purpose, our lives become filled with ever-changing possibilities and opportunities to experience joy.
When a person is independent and self-sufficient, they transition from being dependent upon the community to contributing to the care of others.
Relying on yourself creates happiness due to an inner pull toward independence that is achieved when a person can care for themselves and others. Freedom is received in milestones throughout our lives. As children, a bicycle meant taking ourselves where we wanted to go.
As we progress through life, this feeling of joy and independence is felt time and again. There is a sense of pride and responsibility that is realized when the people you are responsible for know that they can trust you in a leadership role.
When we choose a career, a partner, a home, or a change in our path altogether, the joy in our spirit is recharged with each move we make by taking charge of our life’s trajectory.
The Link Between Generosity and Happiness
In many cases, once people have the means to do so, they are quite generous. It’s well known that some of the wealthiest people in America give a large percentage of their fortune to worthy charities, and some of them have created their own foundations. Similarly, the poorest of people are known for their generosity as well and are happy to give a helping hand to those in need.
Joy is found in sharing what we have, whatever that may be. In this study,a diverse group of participants were given money and instructed to spend it on others or on themselves. The group who spent their allotment on others were found to make more generous choices in independent decision-making and show stronger increases in self-reported happiness. Generosity begets more generosity and many people find joy in paying it forward.
The parts of our lives that bring us true joy are rooted in our connection with one another. Our ability to aid in the lives of our loved ones, pursue our passions, take on responsibility, and enjoy one another’s presence enriches our community. We create our own joy in life by creating joy for others.
Visit the TelMD Upstream Blog for more ways to bring more joy into your life!
Let’s Make Wellness Contagious!™