Finding Joy

I was going to write about drugs or food or medical care or one of those hot topics. Then I figured, “it’s Christmas. Write about more important things.” So let’s talk about finding the joy in life. That’s pretty important, and sometimes it’s not so easy.


Some people seem to stay in the joy zone most of the time. Their glucose might be high, their neuropathy severe, and their bank account low. They still look at the bright side and say things like, “Every day alive is a wonderful gift from God.”

Do they really mean it, or are they pretending? If they do mean it, how do they do it? Do they deny their personal and social problems exist? Are they confident in being able to handle those problems, or do they just trust God to make everything OK, or what?

I really wonder about how people skate through the economic, political, and environmental crises without getting down. Global warming can keep me awake nights wondering if my children or anybody’s children have a future on this planet. That is really depressing. But I can’t do anything about it — I already live no-car — so best not to worry about it too much, I guess.

Someone gave me a CD by Eckhart Tolle, one of Oprah’s favorite gurus. It’s called “Even the Sun Will Die.” The message is to get over yourself. The separate self is an illusion; we’re all parts of a larger whole. All that self-centered thinking we do just keeps us from seeing the beautiful world as it is. Makes sense to me; sounds a lot like Buddhism. I haven’t gotten to the part yet about how you actually make these changes.

Of course, psychologists have studied how to keep a positive attitude. I read an article on on coping with unemployment, since job loss is a major fear or reality for many of us. Quoting psychotherapist Jerilyn Ross, the article advises keeping a diary, exercising, socializing, and getting enough rest. Ross also recommends changing overly negative thoughts to more realistic ones.

But those suggestions don’t speak to joy. Can beliefs, thoughts, or practices bring you joy? Is it a habit you can develop? How much do outside circumstances limit or promote joy? Is joy even a worthwhile or reasonable thing to want? Or is it just being selfish? Does seeking joy make it harder to find? Maybe all we can do is accept, and joy will come if it wants to.

Do your beliefs bring you joy? It’s Christmas now — does thinking about the Christmas story make you feel happy or peaceful?

I realize joy might be a lot to ask for in a world where so many are suffering, and while we are suffering too in our own ways. But it would be nice. It would be good to bring joy to others, but I don’t know how to do that either. It may happen by accident sometimes.

Well, this wasn’t a very joyful article about joy. Reading it over, I think that off-and-on depression may be creeping up on me again. It seems like I have to ask you guys for help every couple of months. But one of the things about illness is the way it makes you look at what’s important in life. So I’ll appreciate any thoughts you have on the subject.

With or without joy, have a really Merry Christmas!

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  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear David.

    Merry Christmas. Don’t worry about global warming if it gets too hot in the US you can all move to Canada. If the winter becomes only 4 months long instead of 6 we can live with that.

    Joy is a puzzle. We have a dog that is a cute furry creature that looks like a Gund Teddy Bear so humans are super biased towards him. But the creature is totally paranoid and unhappy most of the time in spite of a super friendly environment. Granted there are occasions when it is smiling but these are a minority.

    Why? Could be genetics. Low testosterone. Or some traumatic experience in its early life. We left it one Christmas in a doggy concentration camp when we went skiing. Could be the same for humans.

  • Beth

    What gives me joy? I think the gentleness of Joy as “enjoyment” is in the forefront of my thoughts today.

    I have had stretches of time in my life when I had to live with life-threatening depression. Even now, I am not certain how I lived through those times. But I do know some of the daily spiritual practices of enjoyment that keep me from going back to depression.

    When I first wake up in the morning, I lie in bed for a while, noticing the Joy of breathing. I remember God, and breathe. I dedicate my waking hours to Love, and breathe. I pray, and breath.

    Before I eat, every time I eat, I pause, and give thanks, and breathe, and notice now much I enjoy breathing.

    Whenever I go outdoors, I look at the sky. I breathe. I take a moment to be aware of how much I enjoy seeing the sky. Whatever is happening in it (and I live near one of the Great Lakes, so the weather here changes a lot), I enjoy the light, the sky, the clouds, the stuff coming out of the clouds. I breathe, and remember how much I enjoy breathing.

    When I lie down to go to sleep at might, I breathe. If I am awake enough, I think back through my day. I remember how much I enjoy breathing. I notice moments of Love throughout my day, and enjoy those moments. I breathe my thankfulness.

    Do I do this perfectly? Of course not. I am human, and sometimes forget, or feel I am too busy, or whatever. But I do try to remember constistently. And I have remembered enough that the gentleness of this practice has changed the emotional tome of my life.

  • David Spero RN

    How beautiful, Beth! It sounds like you are in a meditative state much of the time. Like when I asked a tai chi teacher how she managed to be incredibly busy but stay so calm and and energized, she said, “Whatever I do, it’s all tai chi to me.”

    May I ask how you achieved your current state? It sounds wonderful.

    CD, thanks for the invitation to Canada. Sounds tempting, if just to escape the madness here.


  • Cathy A.

    David, this was a very good article, full of a lot of thought. Those thoughts in turn made ME think.

    I too suffer from depression, but your blog made me feel really hopeful. Questions need answers, which make me think. That sends me away from myself and into the world where I belong. Otherwise I am looking inward instead of outward where everyone else resides. It’s lonely inside, so you have pushed me outside in search of answers and joy, making me feel like C.S. Lewis.

    Thanks. Now off I go!

  • Will Ryan

    David, I’ve learned over the 30+ years I’ve had Type 2 that keeping things simple works best. Diabetes is a baffling and cunning disease that is always with us. When we achieve a level of self-care mastery, great joy results. I focus on the taking care of myself and my A1c tests show I’m on target. I call myself The Joyful Diabetic and that’s how I live my life.

    Happy New Year.

  • Linda

    I just found this website and am diabetic as of last Dec. Stress is one of the major things that caused my diabetis, so I’m taking more time thanking God for all His blessings to me: a wonderful family of 3 sons and 2 daughters, 9 granddaughters, 2 grandsons, a faithful Christian husband, fresh air to breathe and a God who loves me! Boy, does that make me feel good! Stress, be gone! (Am not mentioning the negatives is my life 🙂

  • Betty

    One of the best and easiest things for me is to count my blessings. Sometimes I have to just be thankful for my feet! I have come to realize that so many of us are living in the midst of joy and don’t even realize it. I listen to the birds chirping and say ‘thank you God’; I find things all day long to be thankful for.
    Joy to everyone.

  • shinaye

    Thanks, Beth & Cathy A. I appreciate the advice.
    first, define “joy” for yourself. Relational,religious, social, whatever. I enjoy Beth’s view of “joy”. I, too, am grateful I’m living, breathing everyday.
    doing for others is great way of getting out of yourself.
    For those who have mobility challenges,mindset is very important. Realism with hope.

  • Bob Hawkinson

    Well David I hope you can find peace and joy with your situation this upcoming year. 2010 is gonna be a great one (I refuse for it to be anything else)
    I think that this disease can rob you of your joy if you let it….Like Beth says, I find peace and joy by being thankful for the little things along the way. Today is a gift…..I like to unwrap my gifts everyday and live fully and thankfully…It makes it a whole lot more fun with a sense of humor too…..
    I like to laugh at myself and try to find humor in every situation….it keeps me grounded. As I celebrate my 46th D-anniversary this week, I am just happy to be alive and thriving….also like Beth says….I too am happy to have my feet….:)
    the eyesight, the kidneys, and a happy heart are all just a bonus….lol 🙂
    Keep going…………..Peace, Bob