Happy? New Year–try going for joyful and hopeful instead

There are two sayings we bandy about at this time of year: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

This year as I was writing out Christmas cards, I found myself naturally avoiding those usual seasonal sayings and writing sentiments instead like, “Joyous wishes” and “I hope you can find moments of joy” for friends who had lost loved ones in this particularly difficult year.

Alan McPherson, a retired minister with the Central Presbyterian Church in Hamilton says there is a difference between happiness and joy. “Happiness is an emotion. Joy is deeper, more long-lasting. It is based more on inner certainties, not external events.”

Who knows what the new year will bring. With the second wave of COVID-19 still having an icy grip on the country and most regions in lockdown, happier times seem a way off. But we can always find joy each day in simple acts. Curling up with a good book. Catching up with an old friend. Going for a walk on a bright wintry day and hearing the snow crunch underfoot.

Yes, we can always find joy. And we always have hope.

Have a joyful and hopeful New Year everyone.

Joy to the world

joy-to-the-worldThe word “joy” is rarely used until the Christmas season arrives when it permeates our language. That’s because many Christians equate joy with the religious love of God for all creatures on earth.

Even if you aren’t religious, the holiday season can be a time of great joy for people who experience deep contentment, gratitude or happiness.

What is the difference between joy and happiness?

Alan McPherson, a retired minister of Central Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, distinguishes between happiness and joy this way: “Happiness is an emotion. Joy is deeper, more long-lasting. It is based more on inner certainties, not external events.”

Healthpyschology.org has a similar, but slightly different definition, saying happiness is an emotional state of well-being defined by positive feelings ranging from contentment to intense joy.

There are many passages in the bible that use joy and happiness interchangeably and yet religious groups often equate joy with God’s love to mean a more deeper, long-lasting emotion.

For me, the moments of joy in my life are the times when I have felt supremely happy and at one with the world. These moments are rare, but so very special.

This week’s #HappyAct is to find joy this holiday season. Celebrate peace on earth and a time when joyful all ye nations rise. Listen to a choir echoing its joyous strains and repeat the sounding joy. The weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Do something adventurous

Young man in the 1930s standing in front of an airplane
John Gillies, the pilot

My father was a creature of habit. He had five shirts in his closet, one for Monday to Friday. He ordered the same meals when we went out for dinner and always golfed on Sundays in the summer. The neighbours set their clocks by his daily walk with our old dog Bailey.

When my Dad passed away 12 years ago, we held a celebration at a restaurant. There were lots of laughs and drinks raised in his honour, which is exactly how he would have wanted it. When we were putting together a small display for the restaurant, the full richness of my Dad’s life starting forming in the pages, and it struck me that my dad had a hidden adventurer in him.

There were pictures of him fishing in Northern Ontario and playing trombone at the Palais Royale in Toronto. There were photos of him standing nonchalantly in an airplane hanger in front of the plane he flew when he was in his 20s. There were photos of him meeting the Queen of England (as the press coordinator for the Royal tours in Canada in the 70’s, he met most of the royal family several times and dined on the Royal yacht).

I like to think there is a bit of a hidden adventurer in all of us. In many ways I am like my dad, a creature of habit, but with a hidden adventurer waiting to explore the world and the next adventure in my life.

This week’s #HappyAct is to do something adventurous. While often it’s the small moments and gestures in our lives that bring us the most joy and happiness, we all need a bit of adventure. My adventure this week will be tree top trekking in Muskoka next weekend with my girlfriends. And yes, I’ll be bringing my bug zapper!

To all you Dads out there celebrating Father’s Day, I hope it’s one of the best days of your life, and to my own wonderful husband, the “President Choice of Husbands”, thank you for being such a wonderful partner and father all these years.