What does it mean to experience joy?
Looking back, I recall some unjoyful experiences of sharing middle names as a child. Mine is Joy. My classmates would hear it and start singing “Joy to the World” at the top of their lungs on the playground, merrily dancing around as they sang. Those memories always had tinges of pain, of the shame or embarrassment I felt in those moments. But now, they’re tinged with a new kind of pain—a regret, not of having the middle name Joy, or even of my classmates’ reaction to hearing it. But instead of the way I reacted to having it—I didn’t realize, then, the joy of being called Joy.
Joy is a word overflowing with meaning. We associate the feeling with overflow, too—it’s something that can’t be suppressed or contained, so it pours from our bodies to others around us. It’s something we can’t help but share when we have it. And that, in itself, is a beautiful thing.
The past year, I had the joy of sharing a home with my mother, who was on the course of her last great adventure in life. As she slowly moved closer and closer to death, we made a deal that she would only continue to live for as long as her days still brought moments of joy. When those moments of joy weren’t enough to sustain her, or else came with a new and extraordinary tinge—with a sense of the end—it was time to let go. In her last moment, then, she could let go with joy.
We should all look for moments of joy in our lives. They create space to live in the present, the right here and now, and to connect with the people around us. What gives you joy? What are ways to move closer? There are incredible gifts to be gained from a better understanding of what brings us closer to joy. Schools can—and should—give those gifts to their learners, with the help of a tool like the Happiness Curriculum, now in its fourth year in India’s schools, or by using the Contributive Curriculum so learners discover the joys of contributing to the world.
At Karanga, we’re working to help create moments of joy through more meaningful learning for all. The word—karanga—means “a call out in welcome.” Whatever we’re called, we’re all called to joy.
Let’s answer the call, and find joy every day.