I have been reminded this summer that joy is not something to cultivate or to "achieve". Joy is a state that is inherent in all humans, accessible at any moment in time.
Joy v. Happiness
We live in a culture obsessed with happiness. There are many self-help-y books, courses, etc which aim to increase one's happiness. While I am not opposed to happiness, by any means, it is a state that relies on external circumstances. "If only I had that car/ house/ relationship... I would be happy". Most likely you are familiar with the voice inside your head that tells these stories. Each of these are things that, once gotten, will eventually lose hype. And then, the quest for that thing that brings happiness begins again.
So joy. Joy is an internal state, something that is not altered by external circumstances and is inherently primal in humans just like anger and fear. Joy is a state of being. So, I have come to understand that we uncover joy.
Joy is Present
Joy is not something to cultivate or to achieve. It is a state to relax or soften into.
In my experience, the more I try to feel joy, the quieter it becomes. When I simply sit and listen for the joy that is already present, I am able to feel it in a much deeper way.
I had to learn how to pay attention to the sensations of joy in my body. This past winter, I was struggling deeply to feel joyful or inspired. I was invited by a teacher to sit in gratitude for a few minutes each day. So, I did (even though, many days I wasn't feeling grateful). At some point, I started to feel joy bubbling up from my pelvis. It felt so tiny at first, I almost missed it. But, I continued to sit and to sense those bubbles of joy as often as I could remember. The joy had been there all along. I simply had to take the time to learn how to feel it... to re-member it. To bring it into focus in my body.