Diamond-Cut Life

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Where Do You Find Joy, Versus Fun?

November 18th, 2012 by Alison · 4 Comments · food & drink, global warming and climate change, health & well being

Where do you find joy in your life, as opposed to fun? Fun is defined as pleasure or amusement, while joy is defined as intense or exultant happiness. This isn’t a trick question; it’s designed to help us prepare for the holidays, with the long Thanksgiving weekend starting in a few days. Speaking for myself, I like fun, and I have lots of it in my life. But I prefer joy.

Below are three examples in my own life of where I find joy as opposed to fun. They may not ring true to your own experience, and I’d love to hear from you in comments on what you find joyful, whether during the holidays, or any other time. 

I find joy in making and eating healthy meals, including holiday meals, that have lots of colorful vegetables. Now, I admit I find it reeeally fun to eat junk food, especially salty snacks before dinner (do not leave me alone with your ridged potato chips and Marie’s bleu cheese dip). But what I feel after I eat a stir-fry of bright-green broccoli, red onion, tofu and golden peppers is my body humming with happiness. Healthy food makes me feel alert, able to be present to the people around me and what I really want to do with my time, instead of lazy and sluggish. Are you familiar with my delicious enchilada casserole, or my cheapest, tastiest, healthiest dinner menu?

I find joy in running and walking, especially in wildish places. I know it’s popular to watch football games on holidays. And I’ve found it fun to watch football games on holidays in the past with my parents and brothers. Their excitement is contagious, and watching games together creates camaraderie. But I generally don’t find joy in watching things on TV. I feel too passive when I do that. I already have to sit still in front of a screen for hours every week in my job (thank goodness I can also get up at will, move around and interact with people). And I have to sit still during my long commute. So, in my free time I don’t want to sit. I get intense, exultant happiness from a good, sweaty run on Mount Tabor park, near my house, and hiking through it on Sunday mornings to get to and from church.

I find joy in writing about things that matter, and putting my writing out into the world. I felt joy last Sunday after posting about 350.org, because  I think it’s so important to address global warming, the fact that our climate is changing. I feel some joyful satisfaction in having finished my novel Revelleand finally having copies of it printed and ready to give to the friends who are getting free advance copies in exchange for posting reviews on Amazon (see the short reviews that appear on Revelle‘s back cover here). To be honest, I don’t always find it fun to write. Writing is often hard work. But it brings me joy, especially in the long run. Diamond-Cut Life is five years old now (this is the 504th post), and is based on my conviction that happiness and integrity come not from material riches, but from things better than that.

Over to you. Where do you find joy? Comments here.


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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Colleen

    I’m going to agree with you on finding joy in writing about things that matter. I’m putting the finishing touches on 7,000 words I wrote (after a lot of research) about brave young journalists in two massive refugee camps in Kenya. Against all odds, they’re putting their voices out there for the world to hear. It’s inspiring and humbling and vitally important, and I feel joyful writing about it, though the tragedies of camp life are sobering. It hasn’t been particularly fun for me (the subject is tough, and I hate doing citations, and ‘life’ has gotten in the way of giving it my fullest attention), but like you said, joy doesn’t always equal fun. Joy is often the product of carrying a heavy load of not-so-fun hard work. (I’m going to add that the same thing goes for teaching for me. Not always fun, but joyful in its end-product.)

  • Alison Wiley

    Beautifully said, Colleen. This especially resonates for me: Joy doesn’t always equal fun. Joy is often the product of carrying a heavy load of not-so-fun hard work.

  • Jen Patterson

    The thing I do that gives me the most joy in return is keeping my gratitude journal. I love going back and reading about days gone by from the narrative of my own gratitude. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing in it at the end of the day but I never regret it after I am finished and nearly always feel my spirit lightened.

    • Alison

      Very cool, Jen. I’ve often found that written words (sometimes including my own, when they’re good ones) have the power to elevate my mood, make me stronger, and even at times overcome y hunger and fatigue. I love that your gratitude journal is a source of joy — and, I sense, strength. No coincidence that your good blog of your sojourns in Peru was called Grateful JP.

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