Painting snipKind promise: I will be joyful for no apparent reason.

“I hope you’re not avoiding negative feelings…” she said, when I mentioned my kind promise for the month.

I understand her concern. I know well the danger of pretending to be happy. If I cajole myself into positive thinking, I often experience a negative backlash. It’s some kind of resistance training: insisting on adding the weight of the positive seems to make the negative stronger.

Of course, all this “positive” versus “negative” labeling is part of the problem. It’s fun to feel happy and uncomfortable to feel sad. It’s perfectly natural that, as comfort seeking animals, we want more of the first and less of the second.  What if, though, we just allowed ourselves to feel?

It seems I’m developing an idiosyncratic definition of the word “joy.” Joy is a sweet, slow warm feeling in my chest, like honey. As I’ve been writing all month, it can exist with other emotions. In fact, feeling whatever I feel without judgment – that pure essence of emotion is joy.

I wrote that sentence and then had to think about it. Even pure anger is joy? I think so. If don’t feel like I have to take action to change anything, if I am just in this moment experiencing the flash of frustration, I think there might be a savage joy in it.

I invite myself to experiment: does experiencing emotions without judgment bring joy?