One of the finest qualities of being human

"Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us."
— Charlotte Bronte

"Surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!"
— Louise Bogan


Just as it helps to understand courage by looking at how you respond to fear, it can help to understand joy by exploring how you handle sadness and hurt feelings—emotions that often result in depression and distance from others.

To notice how you might be keeping yourself from the joy (or happiness, cheerfulness, and optimism) that you deserve, consider these questions:

When you compare your reaction to something negative that you hear on the news, or experience in a relationship, to the way others tend to react to that same thing, to what extend do you suspect you may, or may not, be more sensitive than others?

It often helps people feel better about themselves when they focus on the “wrong” they believe another has done to them. In what way do you sometimes feed your feelings of outrage and hurt so that you feel justified in your views—but also notice that your negative feelings last longer than they otherwise would?

Exploring JOY in your life

What does joy mean to you?

How do others know when you are feeling joyful?

To what extent do you feel that joy is related to the “awe” that almost all of us feel when we look at the stars or see a newborn baby, and how do you allow that feeling to fill you with deep satisfaction?

How do you consciously bring joy to the lives of others?

What symbol best represents joy—something that can remind you of this important quality when you find yourself slipping into depression, sadness, and hurt feelings?

This exploration of curiosity was created by Arlene Harder, MA, MFT, resident of Villa Gardens, a Front Porch Retirement Community in Pasadena, California. The material is not copyrighted and may be used with attribution. (Photo by gpointstock in Shutterstock.)