A little joy


One of the problems of this interactive, interconnected web 2.0 world is that sometimes the collective wisdom of the social networks, blogs and wikis turns round and bites you on the bottom.  A case in point is a little application on Facebook called ‘Compare People’, which allows its users to compare their friends – Who has the best hair?  Who would make the best father?  Who was is the most naturally talented? – and be compared to their friends’ friends.  From time to time, it sends out a little e-mail telling you that Carlos and Petunia are your most dateable single friends and that you are less famous than 27 of your network of colleagues, relatives, internet weirdos and people you perform with.  As I have observed these friendly little missives over time, I have noticed that as my Facebook social network changes and evolves, my friends remain remarkably consistent about my strongest strengths and weakest weaknesses.  My top 2 strengths never change, being punctuality and reliability.  A little dull, I suppose, but a reasonably accurate assessment.  The weaknesses are a little more variable, but there one of them has been consistent for many months: happiest.  That’s right – every time someone compares me to one of their other friends and selects who they think is the happiest, they choose the other person.  I am apparently the gloomiest, or at least the least sunny, person I know.

This, oddly, is not something that increases my happiness, so perhaps this little piece of information has become self-fulfilling.  It worries me somewhat, for a few reasons.  As a person who suffers from bouts of clinical depression, what does it say about me when I am the least happy person even when not afflicted?  As someone who works in a service environment, what effect am I having on the students I work with?  As a Christian, shouldn’t joy be evident in me, since that is one of the fruits of the spirit according to the letters in the New Testament?  Come to think of it, I’m probably falling short on some of the others.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Are those really words that describe the Singing Librarian?  And so a tailspin of spiritual confusion begins.

The truth is that I’m probably happier than people seem to realise.  I am, oddly, quite capable of being happy without smiling broadly or laughing all the time.  I don’t tend to be ‘big’ about any emotions I’m feeling, and happiness is no exception.  I don’t shout and punch people when angry, I make sure that I cry in solitude rather than in public, and I don’t often grin from ear to ear.  Also, in recent months, I’ve probably been happier than I have been for quite a while.  West Side Story gave me an immense amount of pleasure (thanks, Phoenix Performing Arts!), and a not-so-little thing called romance has taken me by happy surprise as well.  Perhaps I don’t express my happiness as often as I should, but I am happy.  I may experience frustrations or the black dog may hang around from time to time, but in my own quiet way, I’m a happy singing librarian.

On this theme, I have been entertained and challenged recently by a song called ‘Spread a Little Joy’ by Andrew Lippa.  It talks (or sings) of how we can change the world by being infectiously joyous (not a new idea, as I can think of other songs along the same lines from many decades past) rather than infectiously gloomy.

Don’t spend your life rehearsing every whimper and whine.
Go and spread a little joy
Every girl and every boy.
When you spread a little joy,
Then the sun will shine!

Perhaps that should be a challenge for me.  Spread a little bit of joy somehow.  If it’s true that the world laughs with you, does it smile and get a spring in its step with you as well?  I don’t know, but it’s worth trying.  I have no idea how, but I resolve to spread a little joy.

  1. A little joy is a wonderful thing. So is a little gratitude. The world would be better with a little more of this. Everyday I wake up knowing that I am grateful to be alive.

  2. You display more of the fruit of the spirit than you think you do.

    Knowing that you’re happy makes me happy, so you’ve already begun to achieve your aim of spreading a little joy!

    🙂

  3. Surely happiness is one of the most private of emotions? It’s easy to tell when another person is jolly, or noisy, or cheerful, or jokey, or proud, or pleased or flirty. But I don’t think I’ve ever known for sure that another person was happy unless they were so loved up there was a visible air-gap between their feet and the floor.

    Aphra.

  4. I wouldn’t have said you were gloomy – I think you’re lovely!

  5. I haven’t been over here for a while, but I’m glad I stopped by. This is a post that reinforces me in my decision not to participate in Facebook.

    I thought about doing so a while ago, but decided I just didn’t have time to do one more internet based activity. There are far too many real life friends, gardens, and bloggers to keep up with without having a Facebook thingie going on too.

    One of the things that turns me off about things like Facebook is that they actually have an application called “Compare People.” And then they send you emails telling you how you fall short? Is there not enough unhappiness and insecurity in the world? Now we have to increase the potential for insulting each other and hurting each other? I find the whole concept disturbing.

    Add to that that the majority of my real life friends do not have a Facebook profile either, because we live in a rural area where many of them are still on dial up modems (imagine! Dial up! How archaic) and can’t spend 20 minutes of computer time waiting for Facebook to load. Anyway, my point is that the people in cyberspace really have no point of reference to know whether I am happier than person X or not, since I try to present a certain sort of persona on my blog. It all seems rather artificial and more than a little High School Clique-ish.

    Looks like your winter season is shaping up nicely, enjoy the music and congratulations on the romance! As a very happily married person, I am very much in favor of love and romance!

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