“Joy – A deep feeling of happiness or contentment, an outward show of pleasure”
My sons laugh a lot. I like it. We’ve had a lot of loss recently, so it’s a nice change. In those brief moments, I feel like I’m doing something right as a parent. When I hear their laughter, I know that they are at peace and their souls are free. We were at the park the other day and I could hear their laughter all the way across the parking lot. It was like the wind carried it through the air for everyone to hear. I’m not sure any one else heard it, but it felt like the laughter was lingering in the air. When children laugh, they are not hindered by sadness, worry, or the stresses of work. They are not worrying about their homework, or how they did at their game or if someone likes them or not. They are not in pain, or fighting (oh yes, we have those moments too!). They are simply enjoying life. They have created a moment and are responding to something that is joyful.
I think we under value the importance of laughter and joy. Our culture has become one of taking care of business and staying busy. Rushing from here to there, getting the things we think we are supposed to have, doing one thing after another, like everyone else, not stopping to think if we are happy or if we even find any joy in what we are doing.
Sometimes I laugh with my boys. Sometimes they feel like little alien creatures to me when they say things I don’t understand or act goofy. I don’t get it and I wonder if they are really related to me. So I try to find the kid in me. I try to get into their world, see what they are watching on TV, what topics they are talking about, who they are texting with. I take a genuine interest. We share, as a family, the pictures they post on their Instagram accounts. We go to the sporting events as a family. They ask me to watch their TV shows with them. (Granted, I may have limited patience or interest during these times) I love that they ask me to share their world with them. Even 10 minutes together gives me a feeling of joy as a parent. And often in these moments, we find humor together, in that funny show or in those silly animal pictures they find to post.
I don’t say this lightly because I know not all parents feel the same way, but one reason why my children are able to laugh, and why I feel so much joy being with them and laughing with them, is because I also really like my children. I love their little souls. It’s a blessing to me that I get to parent these kids. It’s not always fun in our house and we’re definitely no happy 24/7, believe me, we all have our moments, but I enjoy their company. I’m invested in their well being. It’s all connected. They know, because of how I respond to them, that I want to be with them. They know I want to be with them, engaged with them, involved, sharing things with them. And they know as a result, that they are important and that they are loved. They know we are a family and that is grounding for them. It’s an integral part of parenting and keeping a family together. In these moments, we create space for our family. Often times as a parent I find the burden is on me to create these opportunities, offer suggestions, create the space for those moments to develop. Or the burden is on me to accept the invitation. “Yes I’d love to watch that TV show (again . . .)
Sometimes my boys discover something funny while goofing around with each other. It’s usually right before bedtime and usually about something I can’t see the humour in. Sometimes it is something funny they discover with their friends. They get each other all wound up, in this wild frenzy of laughter and goofiness and can’t slow it down, which makes them laugh even more. I usually push for these moments to happen outside, so they can be free to yell and scream and run it off. When they are outside in those moments, and not in our home, it brings me immense joy. Nothing is getting broken in the house, no one is getting injured and I don’t have to contain the energy, but can still monitor what’s happening from near by. We each have to find a way to enjoy the moment. It’s a small moment, yet simple and easy.
I think laughter is one of the most joyful sounds on the planet. Imagine children laughing all over the world. That’s a lot of laughter and joy. There are all kinds of joyful, funny crazy moments just waiting to be discovered. We just have to be open to the opportunity to discover them. And be willing to invite our children to find them. How often do we stop to assess where we are at and if what we have is enough? Or if we are happy? Or if any of the things we are so busy doing or getting bring us joy?
“We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves”.
A wonderful book that I recommend:
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy