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what is a joyful life?

July 6, 2016 , , , , , ,


“It must be like a non-stop Disney movie up there in your head, Ms Kwok!” said one of my Year 12s to me, in passing one day.

“Oh, it most certainly is NOT, my friend!”, I remember thinking, with such emphatic force that I was sure they could feel the thought emanating out of the top of my head.

I’m joyful and cheery, for sure, and to the untrained eye, I’m annoyingly sunny. But this joyfulness comes from a place of grounded self-worth, daily struggle, constant conversation, and a real respect for authenticity, which, when navigated properly, is not easy, but very, very real. I find it extraordinary that this is a challenge for others to see, but I take great comfort in knowing that this is the foundation I grow from, and the way I will travel through each day.


So here is my version of joy:

Joy is authenticity; a light that glows constantly from within me, lighting my path.

Sometimes, it’s barely a flicker (after Year 6s), sometimes, it’s bright and blazing.

It’s looks and feels like Integrity, where I “do”, without looking at what the accolades will be, I “do”, because that’s what I ask of myself. That is what I believe needs to be done; the most generous, or the most in-line with my values.

My moral compass is my guiding star, and I’m constantly in conversation with myself as to whether I’ve done the right thing at that moment in time, if I need to work harder, if I need to reconnect with an apology, if I need to let go, if I need to forgive myself, or that exact moment in time, or the situation, or the person. Because compassion is seeing that we are all, indeed, doing the best we can at any moment in time; that we are all imperfect, flawed, and immeasurably beautiful human beings because of this.

In my joy, I struggle, long and hard sometimes. I ask myself for truth, which means sometimes following a path that is uncomfortable, and that I do not like, but that gives me a great peace when I do, because I know it to be fair and just.

Joy is living everything in full, seeing everything in full-colour, (including myself!) and embracing each day, each person, hearing them, seeing them.

It is knowing myself so well that I am able to put down firm but fair boundaries, that I may have the freedom + energy to give the most generous of myself in their safety.

But most of all, joy is exquisite. I cannot predict it, even though it is constant. I wake up each day, and I wonder, what sort of joy will I experience today?

Will it be playful, or courageous?

Will it be lively, or simple?

Will it be still and silent?

Will it be held in sadness, aching with grief?

Will it be searing, unrelenting, and heated?

For in all these moments, joy is formed.

Joy, to me, is living life with authenticity, clarity, momentum, and purpose. 

The most joyful am I, when I come home tired from the day, but knowing that, even when I was elbow-deep in chaos and feeling, I had done the very best I could with the information I had, at that exact moment in time.

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