I have not been happy these last two weeks. I expected that I would bounce back from foot surgery. I mean, they only cut my toe. It should heal in no time. I had an ablation five years ago. The doctor gave me enough pain medication for two weeks, and I was fine in 24 hours. I filled a prescription for 10 pain pills for this surgery, so I thought it would be painless and easy. My expectations based on the prescription quantity led to my logical conclusion. I was not mentally prepared for the pain and immobilization that followed.
The day before the surgery, I got a library card. I haven’t had an active card since the kids were toddlers. I was excited to start scheduling my recovery reading list. When I began to feel better and was able to read more, I began reading Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown. I was able to score a Kindle version early but only had 7 days to read it. The book is basically an encyclopedia of emotions. With years of research and study Brown and her expert team identified 80 of the most common emotions.
I was particularly intrigued by her discussion of the subtle difference in various emotions. I loved the discussion of happiness and joy. I am fascinated and obsessed with the feeling of JOY. I even bought myself a ring that says choose joy. I have worn it for two years, rarely taking it off. I did have to remove it for surgery, and then I misplaced it. I was going to add about my distress over losing it, and then, my ring magically appeared in the bottom of my purse today as I was searching for chapstick. (That brought me a moment of happiness AND added to my joy.)
Since the surgery, I would not describe my mood as happy. Happiness is an outward emotion. It is fickle and is easily altered by things outside of our control. I thought I had lost my ring, had foot surgery, and I have been in pain. I have been restless, tired, and disappointed. Happiness has not been coming up on my wheel of emotions. Despite these circumstances, I never lost the feeling of joy. I mean, joy is an internal feeling. Joy endures hardship, trials, and loss. We pursue or experience happiness, but we choose joy.
I was in the Clubhouse Seeing Goodness a few days after my surgery. The topic was JOY. I shared the difficulties of my week and expressed that while I have not been happy, I am joyful. I was in bed with my feet elevated, listening to the birds outside. I was watching hummingbirds enjoy their sunset snack of honeysuckle. I could hear the chickens calling for their evening scratch. Todd was caring for Emily in the other room. Ben and Coco were by my side. I define joy as a choice. I may feel terrible but choose to remain joyful.
Joy is often described in religious terms as a confident assurance of God’s power and presence. It is about something bigger than ourselves. No matter what is in our MUG (Mother Nature, The Universe, or God), the more we step outside ourselves and look for the beauty and gifts around us, the more we feed and fuel our inner feeling of joy.