According to the dictionary, I'm working with the following definitions:
the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure;elation: She felt the joy of seeing her son's success.
a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated: Her prose style is a pure joy.
the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety.
a state of happiness or felicity.
–verb (used without object)
to feel joy; be glad; rejoice.
That's a pretty huge concept, and I think the breadth of possible meanings is appropriate for a word that will be used to focus my thoughts, intentions, prayers, and actions for a full twelve months. At this point in the game, I've put only a little time into sorting out how joy (both looking for it and creating it) might shape a number of arenas in my life.
I would like this year to be a time for sharing joy with friends and finding new friends who will bring joy to the everyday. Each year in academia seems to bring huge transitions in friendships as people finish their programs and move away while others, new students and their spouses and circles of friends, join the pack. I'd like to make a meaningful investment in any friendship that strikes me as a potential source of joy and enjoyment, for no matter how short a time it may last. I am also challenging myself to be more mindful about creating joyful experiences for my friends, by being more present, by reaching out more generously, and by expressing my appreciation more frequently.
With life throwing emotional and physical distractions in front of me for the last several months, my mental dedication to my schoolwork has been flagging; I feel like I have very little motivation! At the same time, any really honest evaluation of my commitment to my program, my subject, and my teaching vocation reminds me that I'm in this for a reason and that I do love what I'm doing, even if I don't feel enthusiastic about all parts of the task currently in front of me. In the realm of schoolwork, my biggest challenge will be seeking out joy, learning to appreciate those tasks that I currently see as chores, finding a way to be satisfied with and joyful about the work that I'm doing, thinking less about accomplishments or progress and more about the process of learning and improving. It seems to me that in the last 6 months this area of my life has produced joy least consistently, so I am very excited to see what a change in perspective might effect.
Creative work & Spirituality
These two fit together for me in ways that I'm not yet sure how to articulate clearly. One part of it is that my challenge for 2011 is to bring joy to others through the use of my talents. I am committed to creating new patterns, new designs, and new products this year that reflect the joyful experience that knitting is for me, and I am excited to put more of my efforts toward crafting for a purpose; I want the items I make or the proceeds from their sales to benefit others in a more concrete way. This means more donations, for a start, but I know that it can mean so much more, and I'm excited to find out what the year holds. Another goal I have for myself in light of the overlap between creativity and spirituality is to find more crafters and creators to spend time with so that we can inspire each other and forge deep and joyful friendships that hinge on a sense of being called to make and do for others.
Do you have a word for the year? How do you think it will shape what you do?