A Sneaky Little Thing Called Joy

Of course, I’m still over here ruminating on the subject of joy.

Incidentally, I probably shouldn’t have used the word ruminating in the previous sentence, but it does allow me to show off something interesting I learned about psychology this week: Rumination on meta-thoughts, that is, thoughts about our thoughts is found more frequently in young people who suffer from depression. Proof that overthinking is not good for our mental health.

But I’m not necessarily ruminating on my thoughts, nor am I young. So please don’t be worried about me. I do wallow in my thoughts with the best of them, but that is neither here nor there. Right now, we are still talking about joy.

This week, as I mentioned previously, our mask mandate was dropped. So I was discovering people differently this week.

There is an assistant in my youngest scalawag’s class who…I don’t know how to say this exactly, but…I just hadn’t gotten a good vibe from her since the beginning of the year. I had this feeling from the few nods we had exchanged that she didn’t like us.

I know that sounds stupid, but I am always concerned about how my youngest child’s behavior, which is painfully outgoing to say the least, and unpredictable to say the worst, and always difficult to explain, is going to be perceived. And obviously, I obsess over how his enthusiasm and unpredictability are going to reflect on me as a parent, something about which I am terrifically insecure.

We have friends who had had children in this class before mine was there, and they only had the most wonderful things to say about this lady and because I trust them, I tried very very hard to shove the garbage can lid over my thoughts. It’s just me. It’s just me. It’s just me. I failed very hard at my endeavor to keep that rat in the garbage can.

Well, as it turns out, it was just me.

She was one of the people I absolutely did not recognize without a mask. She was so different…so much kinder looking…without the mask. And when our eyes met and she smiled her sweet smile, I realized how wrong I had been.

(An incidental and very good example of why rumination is such a harmful thing. I let this stupid insecurity get in the way and needle around in me for months, when I literally only had half the information I needed.)

Because she looked so kind, and because my youngest child had been awake since 3:30AM (oh yes. he was.) I dared give her a little fair warning that he might be a little more unpredictable than usual.

And she said, “He is so charming. We just love him around here. And even when he is unpredictable, we know he has a good heart, and the kids know it, too.”

And can I tell you what I promptly did? I started to cry.

Of course I did. Because joy ambushed me.

It’s like when, a few weeks ago I got my first unpremeditated hug in two years and I promptly cried. I cried myself to sleep over that hug.

Or when my husband sent a very kind text message about the work I’ve been doing on the podcast. I cried. And I cried every single time that week when I reread the text message.

All this time I thought joy would be like a party horn, or fireworks.

But it’s actually a very very quiet thing. It is a sneaky little thing that, apparently, enjoys reaching into our places of greatest need and squeezing just a little bit, crushing our doubts one by one and releasing a tiny amount of joy, one tear at a time.

Episode 31: Mental Health Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: Rage; Sublimation; Mental Hygiene. Episode 31: Mental Health is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories. The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up. Links: The Great Bathrobe Refashion: https://lilyfieldschallenge.com/2021/05/18/the-great-2021-bathrobe-refashion/ Rage Refashioning: https://lilyfieldschallenge.com/2021/05/27/rage-refashioning/ Sublimation: https://lilyfieldschallenge.com/2021/06/09/sublimation/ You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com. A great big thank you to Seven Productions here in Mulhouse, France for the use of the song "La Joie" as the intro and outtro to the show. Thanks also to Matt Kugler who sang it and Claude Ekwe who wrote it.
  1. Episode 31: Mental Health
  2. Episode 30: Contentment
  3. Episode 29: Commitments
  4. Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After
  5. Episode 27: Passionately Curious

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: