What I know: Insist on Joy

“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow”
wrote Helen Keller in 1905. How important it is that we pluck the joys that fly by! We simply must have fun along the way. We must radiate joy at all times. Live while we live. Mix seriousness with whimsy. “Insist on joy in spite of everything,” wrote Tom Robbins. Through the warts of life and all of the mundane, joy is the one thing we must have. Our souls demand it.

“One filled with joy preaches without preaching,” wrote Mother Teresa. Hallelujah! What a sermon! This is the way all of us want to be. Exuberance is beautiful. Zest is beautiful. How can we be attractive if we do not love life? Loving life and being filled with joy keeps us going day after day. “The gayety of life, like the beauty and the moral worth of life, is a saving grace, which to ignore is folly, and to destroy is crime. There is no more than we need–there is barely enough to go round,” said Agnes Repplier in The Gayety of Life (1904).

What are the ways that we can celebrate joy? We can complete what we started, enlarge our interests, express gratitude to a friend, accentuate the positive, be kind, laugh a lot, and extend a helping hand to someone in need. To really experience the fullness of joy we must share it with others. “Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls,” wrote Mother Teresa.

We need joy as much as we need the coat upon our back. Without joy we are like corpses walking around. Joy in our spirit is a measure of our power.

Joyous people look upon their lives as a life of service. Joyous people have a reason for living outside of their own selves. Joyous people sing while they work. “Joyous people are not only the happiest, but the longest lived, the most useful and the most successful,” wrote O. S. Marden. Find a joyful person and they will be living in the present actively involved in contributing to the betterment of mankind. They don’t think about being joyful; they just are.

“I find my joy of living in the fierce and ruthless battles of life, and my pleasure comes from learning something,” wrote August Strindberg, in his preface to Miss Julie (1888). Joy is in accomplishment. Learning something new and sharing what we have learned with others is a joy—the greatest joy we have. That is why we revel in a book that we have never read before. A book can bring insights into our minds that we have never thought of before.

“A wise man sings his joy in the closet of his heart,” wrote Tibullus in Elegies first century B.C. Our joy, joy, joy is down in our hearts, down in our hearts to stay. Rose Kennedy wrote, “Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them?”


Carolyn Lee Peerman
Written by Carolyn Lee Peerman