We all live lives rich in relationships and punctuated with emotion. Lovers arrive, bringing gifts of passion and tenderness, and then exit, marking their passage with anger and sadness. Children flash into being, evoking previously unimaginable exhilaration and exhaustion. Friends and family members tread parallel paths, sharing our emotions, and then pass on, leaving grief and memories in their wake.
Across all our relationship experiences, what balances out our anger and grief is our joy. All human beings share the capacity to relish intense joy and the desire to maintain such happiness in an impermanent and ever-changing world. Also universal is the fact that our personal joy is determined by the quality of our interpersonal connections. When our relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and romantic partners are happy, we are happy, and when they’re not, we’re not.
Yet, joy doesn’t drop magically from the sky into our hearts and minds and stay there. We create joy – through every decision we make and every thought, word, and deed. When we manage our emotional experiences and communication poorly, the interpersonal sorrows we wreak on others reflect back on us in the form of personal unhappiness. When we steadfastly and skillfully manage our emotions, the positive relationship outcomes we create multiply, and with them, our happiness and the joy of those who surround us.
I encourage all of you to keep this thought in mind:
We create joy – through every decision we make and every thought, word, and deed.