The Radical Transformation of Joy

First, a couple definitions:


Authentic joy - actions and choices that you take freely, and that serve you now and in a few weeks, months, years; an emotion based in deep contentment and satisfaction, comfort and safety, pure independence and true connection to your essential self

Pretend joy - anything that has a compulsive element; anything that, upon reflection, will create feelings of shame or regret; an emotion driven by want in the moment, without consideration for long-term effects and ultimate self-care


I believe in the radical transformation of joy.


But only of the authentic variety.


Pretend joy may feel grand for the time being. Telling yourself you deserve it, you've earned it, it's been a long day. Drumming up ideas about splurging and luxuriating and *just for tonight*. Giving in to your body's impetuous craving or longing. It'll satisfy...but only for the here and now.

The aftermath of pretend joy is full of discomfort, remorse, chagrin. Maybe a flash of justification here and there. More disgrace. Sometimes the regret isn't very dramatic...just a little itch that things weren't exactly aligned. You weren't quite attuned to yourself. And sometimes that ultimate sweeping statement: ah well, you only live once. YOLO, baby.


Except, *exactly*. You only live once. Why spend this one valuable lifetime sucked into actions and choices covered in pretend joy when the real deal is available to you?


Authentic joy brings joy now...and in 5 minutes...and next year. It brings joy whenever you think back on it. Authentic joy fills you up. It feels substantial and grounding. Authentic joy isn't about "coming back for more". Authentic joy comes from an utterly free sense of decision-making, no strings attached.

Authentic joy is about the ride. And most of the time the outcome is equally as authentically joy-filled. You're proud of the you that did it, the you that made that, the you that chose that path. It feels good all the way in your bones. You soul shimmers a bit.


As David Whyte says in his poem, "Coleman's Bed":

"Live in this place
as you were meant to and then,
surprised by your abilities,
become the ancestor of it all,
the quiet, robust and blessed Saint
that your future happiness
will always remember"


Living a life full of authentic joy, and leaving pretend joy behind, is a practice in becoming a beloved ancestor of your future self. It is a considerable act in self-care and connection. Becoming aware of your sources of joy and following their trajectories in order to understand where they lie in the scope of authenticity is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.