Written by Shari Stewart
Someone asked me recently, “when do you experience joy?” I was stumped. I understood the question but I didn’t know how to respond. I realised quickly that I couldn’t answer the question because I couldn’t define joy. The words I had were insufficient, that is until I put them all together. Here they are: fun, laughter, smile, relax, freedom, together, share and be myself.
Admittedly, this is not a long list but it helped me to understand what I needed in order to experience joy and suddenly the answer was easy and I was able to share that working with my team, talking and sharing with other educators, laughing out loud, being silly, acting myself is when I feel joy. And I was unexpectedly shocked. I thought the answer should be, watching my children, being surprised by a visit from a friend, going to a party. But it wasn’t any of these.
When I am with my team, working together to support educators facilitating conversations, hearing lived experience, connecting with like-minded individuals and creating new knowledge, I am joyful. My mind and body are alive. And if I think more about why, it is the stories – storytelling and story sharing. But more than that, it’s the opportunity to truly express myself without judgement or criticism. I don’t mean to say that disagreement is absent, it’s not. But I know if I share an idea or a comment, it will be listened to.
Being listened to, really listened to is joyful. The experience of someone paying attention, hearing you not with the intent to reply but with the intent to understand is joy. And the vehicle for this joy, how to get there is through self-expression. The expression of one’s ideas and thoughts as they are in that moment. And then we have the opportunity to listen to ourselves and that is joy.
So like most people, I want more joy, don’t you? So I will continue to draw, paint, write, sing, dance and move to express myself and come to know me now, as I am. Thanks for listening.