Our search for joy

Are we overthinking our mental health challenges?

When was the last time you felt truly joyful? Unbridled, unhinged waves of blissful joy.

What drives us a bit crazy about the current discourse around the prevailing global mental health crisis is that much of the dialogue is incredibly sterile and lacking in emotion. We're not talking about the simple emotional-highs in life that appear to be missing for a lot of people...like joy.

Joy comes when you do something that brings about an intense feeling of personal satisfaction, without ever thinking about making a living from it. Doing things for no other reason than joy just isn't openly encouraged enough in our highly-competitive modern reality, for people older than 6.

During the covid-lockdowns a lot of us rediscovered simple pleasures like playing Wingspan, baking sourdough bread and gardening, Things that brought about unexpected joy in the solitude of our forced isolation. The momentum to rediscover that joy has waned, but is not as yet lost entirely.

Contributing her experience to Cup of Jo, writer Marian Schembari shares how getting back into singing (even though she's not a great singer) has had a massively positive impact on her life:

Halfway through my 36th year, on a hamster-wheel day packed with lunchbox-making, cat feeding, working, going to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, vacuuming, and frantic bathing, I tried to remember what joy felt like.
What even was joy? I wondered with my gloved hands submerged in a sink full of gray water studded with a flotsam of cat food. What did that word even mean?
I couldn’t remember.

Without overthinking it, she found herself a singing teacher on Google and booked a few lessons. Instead of discovering that she was the next Montserrat Caballé, she ended up meeting the best version of herself.

It feels audacious, even revolutionary, to spend all this time focusing on something that matters to literally nobody but me. It will never make me rich or famous or even popular at karaoke. It contributes nothing to my family’s income. But I am now the melody and the rhythm and the whole damn song.
No one gave it to me. I took it for myself.

As much as going to therapy, journalling, mediation and eating clean is probably not a bad idea; none of these things makes life a joy to live.

Joy 2.0 is a creative theme worth exploring further. It feels like opting out of competition and comparison is an empowering way to really stick it to the man.

Read further:

The Great Joy of Returning to Your Childhood Hobbies | Cup of Jo
“Our house is now full of music.”