31 December 2017 by Lisa Meloncon
One of the nerdy great things about this job is that we can read lots of things and call it research. For me, I have always enjoyed the expertise of early modern medical texts that were part actual medicine of the day, part advice book, and part collections of lore. These little books are easily some of the earliest forms of public health communication. As I was re-reading parts of these books recently (this time truly in relation to the J-O-B), I was struck by this line from Thomas Elyot, ca. 1534, “Ioye or gladness of harte dothe prolonge the lyfe…”
Merriam Webster gives three definitions for joy:
- a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion
- a state of happiness or felicity
- a source or cause of delight
Joy in its many forms always reminds me of children. I so love watching their faces and expressions as they do things. If you watch closely, you can see their struggles and then the precise moment when they figure something out. It’s a magical moment. It’s a joyful moment. Children also have the innate and unconscious ability to simply be joyful, to find a “gladness of heart” in all sorts of things both big and small.
It has not been a secret that I have had, personally, a difficult year. Admittedly, joy has been hard to come by. But as I have worked toward rebooting my life, I was reminded of something that my father said many years ago.
His wisdom often found its release in pithy sayings and odd aphorisms. Some of these are legendary because he said them all the time. So for example, “if you’re gonna be stupid, you gotta be tough,” is a Joe classic. But others I remember not because of their frequency, rather because of their weight. After a difficult conversation many years ago, he asked a couple of pertinent questions, and then he looked at me and said, “let’s go make some joy.”
I have always appreciated my father’s connection between the material process of making to that of an emotion, state or source. To talk about making gives us back control over something that often times seems so far outside of it.
This is also the thing with children. They are experts at making joy simply through the process of experiencing the world with a passion and zeal of openness and exploration. A child’s courage and fearlessness is the foundation of their joy, and unfortunately, these things shift and change as fear weaves its way into our adult lives. Because as we get older and experience gets in the way, we often forget what that childhood joy felt like—unencumbered, full bodied, optimistic, and magical.
To embrace this part of childhood again…
So that’s my wish for each of you in the coming year. I wish you joy:
- lots of joyful experiences with those dear to you;
- lots of joy over your successes big and small;
- lots of remembrances of joy in times of trials;
- and lots of joyful moments that together simply make a life well lived.
Yes, in 2018, I wish you so much joy.