We experience joy in different ways at different stages of life. What might have brought me joy when I was seven might not bring me joy now at twenty-five. This may even change on a monthly or weekly basis, as I’ve sometimes experienced.
Why reflect on past joys? Why not live in the present moment? Well, for me, I’ve been wrestling with stress and being overwhelmed and am finding it hard to feel joy. By reflecting on past joys, I can remember that at some point I have been able to feel joy and that the dark moments in life don’t last forever. Remembering how I have felt joy can create joy on its own. It can bring about gratitude and love.
Below, I’m going to be reflecting on my own past joys in different stages in my life and I encourage you to think of your own joy in these stages along with me so we can reflect together.
A child’s joy is priceless. They find joy in the simplest things, like how cool a revolving door is as it moves, how fun it feels to go over a speed bump, or how funny the characters are in a movie they’ve seen thousands of times. These oddly specific joys are all things I remember experiencing as a child.
However, I got the most joy out of playing games. Growing up, my grandma taught me so many board games and I loved playing every time we got together. I remember spending summers at my grandparents house, where we would spend the day swimming in their pool or stopping by the library, and spend all evening playing games.
When my younger siblings were finally old enough to comprehend games, I was teaching them how to play. While playing together was usually joyful, I remember how sore of a loser we all were; a few too many fights happened around Monopoly. But games are something that always brought our family together and where a lot of great memories have been made.
I still experience the joy of playing games now. I even went to Target and splurged on a few new games to play with my family this Christmas. So while this is a childhood joy, it still brings me joy in a different way.
The teenage years are filled with an overwhelmingly wide range of emotions. Every emotion is heightened, making embarrassing and hurtful things feel worse than they are, but making the love and joy feel even more powerful.
My world as a teen revolved around Jesus and Drama Club. I was highly involved in the ministry work at my school, taking my position as a leader and speaker very seriously. And I was deeply devoted to the stage, spending most of my hours rehearsing, singing and dancing. Most of my free time was spent doing these activities among friends.
While I felt such joy being in these clubs, it was the friendships I remember most. Some of my favorite moments were when I was able to hang out with my friends on our own. The leader group I worked with in the ministry (who I’m still friends with to this day) consists of four guys and me. And I remember sometimes after meetings we would get in one of their cars and drive to get ice cream or watch a movie.
These moments were the first feelings of independence, being able to go where I wanted and do wanted. I was so happy to be discovering who I was throughout the rough teen years. I’m grateful for all the experiences, joyful and not, that made me who I am.
Young Adult Joy
We can argue I’m still a young adult now (being 25 and all) but let’s make this young adult age range be 18-24. During this time, I experienced (and am still experiencing) fundamental growth in who I am. I felt joy being able to stay out late in the younger half of this time, but now feel joy in being able to stay in and not have to go anywhere.
I’ve been able to grow financially during this time, and was able to have money to travel on my own and with friends. Traveling and having fun experiences brings me so much joy, especially when I choose how I get to travel, where to go, and what I’ll be doing.
My first road trip with my boyfriend Fernando was an exciting moment for us both. We realized we get to decide when and where to stop, where we will be staying, and what activities we get to do. It might be because we work so well together, but traveling together makes me very happy.
At the present moment, as I am concluding this blog, I am in fact feeling joy from simply reflecting on these past joys. These memories bring such warmth to my heart, as well as sadness of knowing these times have passed.
The present is all we have. And I hope presently you have also reflected on your past joys and feel a sense of warmth and gratitude like I have shared with you.
I’m going to leave you with a childhood quote which has stuck with me to this day. It’s from the movie Kung-Fu Panda (here’s a brief synopsis if you don’t know it) said by the Kung-Fu master trying to motivate his student. It has motivated me all these years:
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”