This past weekend we had the privilege to watch pure joy in action, when the daughter of very dear friends got married:  from the moment she stepped in the church to the moment she stepped off the dance floor eight hours later, the look of elation and delight on her face.. and that of her new husband as well as all family members and guests… was priceless.  The dance floor was full from the first song, with people of all ages dancing to music that ranged from the big band era to Earth Wind and Fire and Taylor Swift. Their ecstasy was truly infectious and spread through the room. If we could bottle that great feeling and inject that into the arms of humanity, perhaps we could reduce the anger and loss of civility we are experiencing across society.

There were many reasons this family could have experienced the day through a veil of misery given some significant challenges in their lives.   Common among many families right now is the challenge of wedding planning during COVID. Our friends were not immune… the wedding was delayed not once but twice, and then had a change of venue just weeks before the invitations were to be sent due to COVID restrictions at their original location.  In addition, they have had significant personal family challenges that could easily have dragged down the experience.  And, to top it all off, the weather was far from cooperative… 48 degrees and rainy all day. Not what the weather is supposed to be in late May. But if you didn’t know any of this back story you would have had no idea because they all chose joy.

I have other friends who also have significant life challenges – health issues, family issues, aging parents, troubled kids, the usual array of problems.  But like the bride and her family, these people are unstoppable and choose not to wear their hearts on their sleeves. They’re not in denial of their issues. They simply choose to face the challenges and move along. And, they choose to bring a smile and positive energy to the outside world.   It doesn’t mean we don’t talk about their challenges. But when we do it’s with a can-do spirit of getting on with life rather than dwelling in their problems. 

In contrast, it’s sad to me to watch people in my life who are becoming “grumpy old people” seeing life as a burden rather than opportunity.  Perhaps you know them as well.  The glass that used to be half full, is suddenly half empty.  Talk about a new home focuses on the many projects that need to be done rather than the excitement of the new beginning.  Suggestions about going out to dinner start with asking “what the menu is” before saying yes. They are suddenly too achy old and tired to participate in physical activities and ideas for new adventures like cooking class or a mini road trip feel Iike an imposition on their comfortable routine.

What a total energy suck.

It fascinating to see how I feel when I leave the presence of these two different sets of people.  One leaves me drained and sad, fearful that my overtures of connection will again be met with emotional rejection. While they’re not rejecting me per se, a distance gets created as these once highly engaged individuals recede into their own personal comfort zones living a life of contentment. 

The other group infuses me and anyone else around them with renewed energy, inspired by their can do spirit. You just want to nod your head and say “yes I can” along with them. Mind you, these are not “life of the party” people… those charismatic charmers who garner a crowd at every party as they tell their jokes and stories. Nor are they major adventurers whose world travels fascinate all listeners. This spirit of joy and positive mind set I’m talking about is in the same average Joe’s as the ones steeped in burden.  They’re just normal people choosing joy.  And it’s working. 

What are you choosing? What energy are you sending to the world?  What energy are you surrounding yourself with?  With the choice of Joy, we can heal the world.