Thanks to our puritanical origins, entire generations of people have been reticent to embrace joy when it comes. Because they’re terrified of feeling shameful or indulgent or depraved. After all, those who take uninhibited pleasure from what they’re engaged in at the moment have been historically viewed as sinful and immoral.
And besides, who are we to feel such joy when there is so much pain and suffering around us? No thanks.
Of course, the joke’s on us. Because there’s nothing indecent or immoral about leading a joyful life. Quite the opposite. Joy is critical to the health of the human psyche. It’s been scientifically proven to increase our overall health and well being.
We should treat the inability to experience it as a public health crisis.
But people’s reluctance makes sense. Rand famously said that which has the power to give us joy is always guarded as one’s deepest secret. And so, to confess joy is to stand naked.
To stop hiding from our power and surrender to the moment and own our direction and walk toward our light and have the life we imagine, that takes courage.
To have agency over the kind of joy that is not even conscious of being joy because it is so steady and natural and unchangeable, that takes courage.
But it’s worth it. Our bravery will be rewarded.
We owe it to ourselves to stop allowing intellectually embarrassing mythology to use guilt as a weapon to hold us in its grasp. Instead, we must try harder to build up joy for ourselves within the misery of life. To find little scraps of it whenever we can, to find loved ones we can share it with, and to find people whom we can pass it along to.
Because the extraordinary thing about joy that nobody tells you us, when you give yourself permission to embrace it, it feels like a return with no investment.
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