You are carrying the accumulated joy of centuries. Setting aside for a moment what your logical mind makes of this, what if it were true? What if, rather than shouldering many generations-worth of pain and suffering, you have within you the joy passed down from your ancestors?
It’s an intriguing story. And if it were true, what if you lived your whole life without connecting with this joy that had been so carefully harvested for you? What would your great-great-grandparents make of that?
I’ve often wondered if unresolved pain and hurt are passed on from mother to child, but I’ve never considered whether joy might also be handed down. Children are not inhibited about expressing joy – or indeed any kind of emotion – but as we grow older, we dampen down our expression to fit social norms.
As we mature, we tend to associate joy with peak experiences rather than an emotion we can experience on a daily basis. Looking back, I rarely gave myself permission to feel joy. There always seemed to be too much sadness, fear or anger inside to feel joy.
I’m still working on peeling back the layers of suppressed emotion but these days I’m much more comfortable with everyday joy. It doesn’t have to be something you only feel on your wedding day or during the birth of a child.
Joy can be found in the smallest things: a beautiful sunset, the first cherry blossom, buds on a tree, the way your partner makes you laugh, having a couple of unexpected hours to yourself, hunkering down in bed when it’s raining outside.
What would you do if you found out you had an inherited wellspring of joy within? How would you express it?
If I believe the story, then it’s important for me to express the accumulated joy of centuries – especially as I don’t have any children to pass it on to. I’d better get busy being joyous.