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Monday, 26 September 2011

Surprised by joy

Our daughter's wedding
This last Saturday our son Tom married his lovely fiancee, Katy. It was the second September wedding in a row for Tim and I, as parents. Last September our eldest child Libby married Paul.

These two wedding days have provided us with the most amazing and unexpected experience of what I take to be 'joy'. 

It sounds a bit stupid to say that this emotion was unexpected. We had approached Libby's wedding anticipating a happy day with family and friends. The careful planning had been a shared and enjoyable process. We knew too that everyone we had invited had a special relationship with Libby and/or Paul, so they would be determined to make it a happy occasion. And then the day came....

What neither of us had anticipated was the powerful effect of the love between two people being made manifest in front of a crowd of witnesses. Nor the depth and power of the love for our children being made manifest in and through parents, family and friends. 

I know now why we use the phrase 'to burst with joy'. The body cannot seem to contain the emotion - smiles cannot be wide enough, tears flow at the slightest prompt. The emotion, carried us, glowing, through the following few weeks.

Approaching Tom's wedding, I was apprehensive about being opened up again in this way quite so quickly. So not to be surprised a second time, but readier and steadier........ha ha, not a chance.

Reflecting on this second experience, I have to acknowledge that joy is also a highly disruptive emotion. It opens us up and makes us vulnerable. It is overwhelming. It creates in us outward expressions of love, generosity, and gratitude to others.  At the time, all this is on open display and has a public impact because it cannot be contained.

Whilst this level of intensity is not sustainable on an everyday basis, it is interesting that the expressions of joy can be accessed daily. Positive psychological and management research show major benefits are to be gained, both in personal life and business productivity, where people make opportunities and are proactive in practicing these expressions. 

'Deviantly successful' teams (i.e. successful beyond what might reasonably be expected) were found to be the ones who were encouraged to notice the best in themselves and others, to celebrate together, to express gratitude and to show their compassion for others.

Soft stuff ? The profit line says otherwise! I wish you just enough joy in your life to create greater happiness and peace every day.

1 comment:

  1. and the exceptional joy leaves a legacy. The creation and experience of my step daughter's wedding in edinburgh 10 years ago has sustained us all since then, even in bad times. Perhaps that's why wedding photos are so treasured?