donderdag 14 april 2016

JOY of LIFE, 30th March 2016

Intro : The two contradicting philosophies

…”there is a deep feeling of joy of life we get when dancing, drinking or making love,…that’s the blood knowledge of Dionysus”
- D.H. Lawrence about Dionysus

Dionysus  (Greek god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy) believed in the power of intuition and reaching out for our state of unconsciousness. He believed that the act of giving into our temptations brought us closer to our real selves and that is the real secret to achieving joy in living.

Socrates, on the other hand, was convinced that moderation, rationality and self-awareness through self-discipline was the way to go.

First associations from guests

It was clear early on that we wouldn’t end with a unanimous definition that suited all our assumptions, thoughts and beliefs about JOY of LIFE. We broadened the topic by listening to various examples. There were bright insights into what joy of life is, how to get it, keep it and whether it is even necessary to have!

A..: The pursuit of happiness has become an obsession.  I think that we all create
our own happiness and if we are unsuccessful or unhappy it stems from a lack of moral structure from within. What we get from life (joy or sorrow) needs to be cultivated by the Socratic school of thought. Discipline.

René : The meaning of happiness has evolved for me. I now pluck joy from moments throughout the day. It springs from what seems like mundane but me experiencing the moment in relation to the surrounding I am in is all that I need to feel the joy of living. That is most satisfying and above all requires patience to slow down.

A(name withheld on request) :  Showing happiness is also a cultural thing. In Russian culture for example, people talk freely about their unhappiness, there is no such thing at all as an obligation to showing happiness. Neither, on the other hand, is showing unhappiness a taboo.

Michel : Finding joy in living means going-with-the-flow for me. I do not force myself to find happiness or find an agenda in every single thing I do. This brings me closer to knowing myself and that I think causes the joy I find in life!

Frederik:  I notice different levels of energy in people. This is the singular thing that expresses the amount of joy people experience. There are a number of philosophical views on how to achieve joy. Stoicism, for example, expects that a follower should be hard on oneself and not give in to outward expression of inner feelings. This “might” be a way to achieve happiness. Hedonism on the complete opposite end of that spectrum urges us to find happiness by trusting our instincts and give in! The God Dionysus lived that way to come into touch with his own core. Pessimism and optimism have their own way of winning happiness. Pessimists bet on losing all the time. If they lose, they win. If they won the first time, they are still winning! Is that the way to achieve happiness? Optimists are happy no matter what  happens. But an optimist who has been cofronted with many blows by fate… is that optimist objectively happy or just propagating an ideology? Coming back to Energy. I cannot express how to measure it, or define it properly. The only marker that Energy leaves behind is the happiness content present in a person.

Ambar : I believe joy of life is achieved when you are unaware of joy of life! If joy comes from pleasure, then let us all accept the fact that ALL pleasures lose their attraction if we do it too often. People who are joyful – are too busy living in the moment. They fill up their lives with experiences and then force themselves to live those experience objectively. Live in the moment and don’t worry about the joy of life. That’s how I get joy from living.

Discussion on the perspectives presented above

A. brought up the fact that happiness mostly arises when we are looking back at lived experiences. A kind of happiness that is retrospective. And on the other hand there is also  happiness derived from anticipation, says René. Michel adds to that : “Yes, it can be so much fun planning a holiday .”
Michel continues that befriending himself brought him to a place where he did not need company from another. He realises that it has also made him, counter-intuitively, a better friend. This insight felt liberating and wholesome at the same time.
And then we came to the question of definition. Is Happiness the same as JOY of LIFE? Everyone agreed that they are different. 

René noticed that most of our definitions of joy of life was derived from the little things in life. He asked whether it was possible to always have moments in which you enjoy small things. Is it under our control at all times? Ambar said that he thought “trying to control” and plan a situation well can insure joy of life. Enjoyment can be derived from planning a painting. Enjoyment can be derived from performing the art of painting. Enjoyment can be derived from reminiscing about the journey from planning to execution of painting.
But: If you find joie de vivre in small things,…- so,-…what about the big things ? The big joie de vivre ?” said Frederik.

Dealing with the BIG joie de vivre

While we were trying to find an answer to Frederik’s question Angelo shared with us how he found the joy of cooking. He had discovered cooking a while back and got used to following recipes. He got compliments for how well his cooking tasted. But gradually Angelo noticed that cooking
began to seem stressful. He kept stressing over how well he is doing, whether he is adequately following the recipes. The smallest errors seemed like big failures. It came to a point where cooking did not bring him joy anymore. And then… something changed. Angelo stopped being hard on himself. He decided to let go. He adopted the ideology of forgiving himself when it came to cooking. Enjoying the ACT of cooking was all he was going to focus on. Like magic… the joy of cooking was reborn. He now looks forward to cooking elaborate meals for his friends. This attitude has actually improved his cooking. Not only that the quality of evenings he spends with his friends and his food has also become joyful!
Rene’ mentioned that the interaction with people is joyful to him. To him it seemed that the  interaction with people was the thing that provides us with joy. Michel countered with the fact that for him it was not necessarily the whole truth. Activities including or excluding his peers could bring him joy. A. said that connecting with people from different backgrounds and learning about their lives brought her pleasure.  Frederik said that his experience of joy was different. It was not people, it was not ANY activity. For him  play and movement caused joy! Frederik elaborates. He finds joy in his weekly tennis practice evenings. What about it? “…you  have confrontation, movement, unexpected situations…  also the size and roundness of a ball can show me joy of life”. It is as if the round yellow ball was the lens that focussed his being into experiencing happiness.  Through this lens he peered into a kingdom happiness every week. He clarified that it’s not just sports. It can be performance arts too. He describes the state of ecstasy that the musicians seem to dip into in the middle of a performance. This spontaneous creative burst is also a path to joy of life!
He has noticed a pattern. Some have joy of life more than others. It is as if they can tap into it. But it is not quantifiable nor predictable. It is the Energy he talks about at the beginning that dictates whether a person is destined to extracted the most happiness from life or not.

A.. can relate to this in a way. He says that joy or happiness is a fleeting feeling. You are never aware of how you have attained joy when you are experiencing joy. As soon as you have quantified your state of being as happy, it is natural  to reach out and grasp it. It is natural to want to hold on to it for as long as possible. But as soon as you try to grasp it, it slips right through your fingers. René agrees:…”maybe it’s all about cultivating the moments of happiness from experiences that lead to it.” 

Final conclusion/definition of JOY of LIFE

A: …Its a perception on the inside.

René: It’s time … one needs to make time to appreciate it,…the small things
(Angelo: ….yes but small things don’t necessarily need to have small results of joy. The smallest things can result in the greatest of joys)

Ambar: …I think ultimately it’s the shared HUMAN experience. Those who talk about personal, non-human contact based experiences are possibly also talking about human experiences without knowing it. The act or sporting is actually a very human contact-experience. Successful people in ANY field are successful because they were able to connect with people through words or actions. They motivated people. Moved them, brought people to tears, inspired people to make a change and accomplish great things. This brought them joy and it was all based on the interaction with people. 

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