Joy is a Gift: The Illusion of Happiness
JOY IS A GIFT?
I was lazing around one afternoon watching television when I saw this McDonald’s commercial. (Watch the video above to see it) When the commercial ended by saying, “Joy is a Gift” it caught my attention. As I began to contemplate this notion, the commercial followed their bold statement with the image of a happy meal box saying, “And this is the box it comes in.”
What?! Joy? Happiness?
Something we all strive for? Such a significant part of our lives? The very thing that seems so elusive to so many with depression, anxiety, grief, and other hardships – comes in a happy meal box?
Is that to say McDonald’s is the secret to having this wonderful gift of joy?!!!
I Found the Answer
I am so excited to tell my clients who have been suffering from depression that I found the answer while watching TV. And it will cost less than $5.
Stop wasting your time and money on therapy, just go down to your nearest McDonald’s and ask for a happy meal! Make sure it comes in the red box with the yellow smile emblem because that is the box joy comes in.
As I imagine going to over to my nearest McDonald’s I begin to wonder…
What if they don’t have the right box? Is it any happy meal box or just that red one? What if I get one of those happy meal bags, do I still get my gift of joy?
Crap! Maybe if I go and ask for the box of joy they will know what I am talking about and give me the right one, but what if they have already sold out?
What happens if joy only comes in the one box they showed on the commercial? Only one box – who gets it then?
What is going to happen when everyone in search of joy goes to McDonald’s expecting their gift and it is not there? What do they get then?
The gift of disappointment?
Of feeling like a failure?
Maybe anger, frustration?
Perhaps the gift of feeling like the pursuit of happiness and joy is one they will never attain?
The Significance of This Commercial on Our Lives
Obviously, I am being cynical when it comes to describing that commercial. But after years of working to help people with depression and struggling with it on my own for most of my life – that commercial bothers me.
It is a perfect illustration of the cultural notion that buying things and receiving things, (objects, the right food, material possessions) will bring us joy.
The idea, that if we just go to the right places and give the right people money, joy will be handed right over.
The media does this to us all the time. It has done so for most of our lives. Leading us to believe that all we have to do to be happy is to buy a product. Beer, cars, toys, clothes, the right cable service, the list goes on and on.
What is Joy?
So where does joy actually come from? Is it a momentary sensation that we experience at periodic times in our lives? Or is it something that always exists in us? Perhaps it just lies latent during times of struggle? Are we ultimately even capable of having real joy at all?
Like that McDonald’s commercial, our western culture gives us the idea that if we work hard enough and become successful enough to constantly buy things we will most certainly find happiness and joy.
It is always – just one more thing that is missing – just one more item you will need to buy.
But what is the truth?
If we work hard enough in order to fulfill cultural expectations will we really be happy and have joy?
In my experience, that is probably the furthest thing from the truth. What I have seen, is people working extremely hard. So caught up in their pursuit, they end up missing joy entirely and instead find disappointment. Finding that no matter how hard they try, it just isn’t enough. Resulting in a sense of guilt, worthlessness, and powerlessness.
They feel like failures and losers. All because the media has created a culture that fosters the idea that happiness and joy is really easy to get (if you have enough money to buy it), yet no matter how hard they try it never really comes.
Too many of us turn this disappointment inward, blaming ourselves – resulting in depression and anxiety.
So What Can We Do?
Speaking for myself, I do not find joy in a happy meal box.
I find that in order to truly experience joy it has to come from me. It is already there, oftentimes I just need a change of perspective.
Perhaps “Joy is a Gift” should mean it is a gift from ourselves. As joy is not really a gift; it is a God-given right for us all.
If we can open our minds and hearts to accept that we are deserving of love and happiness, fill our days with gratitude, and focus on the beauty of our spiritual nature – joy is certain to follow.
If you do not get the perfect job, if your child does not behave the way you want, if things just don’t happen the way you wish, or you never get to buy that car you’ve always wanted; does that mean you cannot experience joy?
What if joy is in the places you are not looking, such as in your child’s smile, or the softness of their hand as you hold it to cross the street. Maybe joy is found sitting in the park on a summer day feeling the breeze softly blowing across your face, or in a bubble bath filled with warmth and the scent of lavender, or simply lying in bed next to your partner after a long day.
If joy is, in fact, a gift, maybe it is those types of subtle experiences that are the real gift.
If we are too busy trying to obtain joy, happiness, and our sense of self-worth through hard work, the way the media and culture has fooled us into thinking, we are likely to never find it, and worse yet – find the opposite instead.
Take a moment to do an inventory of what you are grateful for and let yourself get carried away in the moment of experiencing the joy these things bring to you. Start your day off each morning with gratitude for the now. Then notice how your days become better, easier, and filled with more of the joy that you deserve.
Where does your gift of joy and happiness come from? Share your thoughts with others and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you! <3
About the Author
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