This year, when the New Year rolled around, I made a decision to send the message above to those nearest and dearest to me, to my friends, my colleagues and those travelling the road with me. Why? At this particular moment in our history, in our generation of humanity, is it not a bit tone deaf to speak about “Choosing Joy”? A little trite? Flippant even? Is there not a hint of superiority in this message? Given the immeasurable anxiety, suffering, fear, disquiet and concern that many (if not all) of us are feeling, is it not a bit insensitive to speak about joy?
I have to admit that I really grappled with this myself. Who am I, from a position of such profound privilege, where the images in this picture are real, accessible and experiential to me, to send out an edict to others to “Choose Joy”? Well, I guess that I chose to do so because I don’t believe that joy is a function of privilege, status, wealth, intellect, physical prowess or wellbeing, or any of the other things that we so frequently conflate with being necessary for happiness. I believe, heart, soul and mind, that joy is a choice we make. We can make it in the best and the most awful of our experiences. Joy is a choice, and it can be consciously enacted and enabled. Spoiler alert here: Despair is a choice too. The difference between joy and despair lies in the 6 inches between your ears (and a little upward of that too, in your frontal lobes). This awareness of our choice of lens, and the impact that it has on our experience of the world, is by no means new – and yet it is still not rooted within our collective conscience or common practice.