I’ve heard it said that “There is joy in the journey,” and I agree wholeheartedly. Additionally, I believe that when we choose joy as our reality then we reach a higher level of joy in the journey, and I like to call this level “journey in the joy.”
Switching the order of the words “joy” and “journey” does two things for me. First, it reminds me that the joy is bigger than the journey. (Otherwise, how could the journey be worth it?) Second, it reminds me that if I’m truly filled with joy then I can’t sit still. Experiencing joy in any given activity would drive me to continue and grow in that activity. And true joy would move me to serve every soul within my reach, all the while expressing love and gratitude.
We may start with a journey to find joy, but once we’re filled with joy then the real journey can finally start.
Now, what did I mean earlier by the phrase “choose joy as our reality”? I fear some people either don’t believe a joyful life is really possible, or they believe they don’t deserve it. So step one is to flip a switch in your brain and believe that joy isn’t fleeting; it can be everlasting. And it can be yours.
A few days ago I was listening to podcast where Jeff Sanders interviewed an energy healer named Elaine Grohman. She said something that I will never forget: “People think stress is normal. Stress is not normal. Stress is common but it’s not ‘normal.’ JOY is normal.”
Next, we need to understand that “joy” is slightly different from “happiness.” I invite you to ponder this quote by Dallin H. Oaks:
“Joy is more than happiness. Joy is the ultimate sensation of well-being. It comes from being complete and in harmony with our Creator and his eternal laws. The opposite of joy is misery. Misery is more than unhappiness, sorrow, or suffering. Misery is the ultimate state of disharmony with God and his laws.”-Elder Oaks “Joy and Misery” (October 1991 General Conference)
You may want to read that quote two or three times before continuing.
My biggest takeaway from that quote is that JOY = HAPPINESS + HARMONY WITH LAWS.
I like the word “harmony” because my family is very musically inclined, and I remember being taught that certain patterns of notes create lovely harmony, but the wrong combination of notes creates dissonance and makes you cringe. There are rules in music that you can follow to get the right combination.
Whether you’re a religious person or not, it’s not hard to see that there are laws that govern and organize the universe. I don’t mean laws that governments set up, I mean laws that make life possible, like the law of gravity.
For example, there is a law that says “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise.” (Thank you, Benjamin Franklin.) Now suppose that you were to stay up all night long watching your favorite youtube channel. You may feel happiness, because it’s your favorite show and brings you pleasure. But by breaking the law of a good night’s sleep you are tired and out of balance and your memory of what you watched is fuzzy. If you watch those shows at an earlier hour and spread them out over several days, you would have more energy and you would remember them better. Your feeling of happiness would be closer to joy because you would have stayed in harmony with a law.
There are so many laws to harmonize with, including laws we may not even know about. Does this mean you have to be “perfect” in order to experience joy? Yes . . . in a way. After all, the violation of even one law puts our spirit and/or our body in dissonance and disharmony with the universe. We need a reset button and a refresh button. Religion provides us with the tools we need to access those buttons.
In my own beliefs, I know that fullness of joy is only possible through Jesus Christ. His grace makes possible the transformation from dissonance to harmony. We can’t reset and refresh without His help because there are unseen forces that only He can make right, because He understands all laws. In fact, He is the only person who has never broken any law. He sacrificed His life to atone for the dissonance created by our violation of eternal laws. He is so full of joy that when we repent and commit to follow Him, His joy flows into us. He is the source of joy.
Right now we’re all experiencing joy in the journey (some of us more frequently than others), but my goal is to help us upgrade to journey in the joy. To find out which state you’re in right now, ask yourself, “Does my existence feel like an endless journey or an endless joy?”