Naomi at Nela Park 2011The dish soap I remember most from my childhood is Proctor & Gamble’s “Joy” brand dish soap.  Joy was a major soap opera sponsor – how fitting.  P&G’s product slogan for Joy was “From grease to shine in half the time”.  This was the first soap that I remember liking how it smelled.  It didn’t have a chemically, soapy smell – it smelled like lemons!  The container was a nice bright, sunny yellow color.  This dish soap just looked and smelled happy.

When it was my turn to wash the dishes, Joy made my job easier; the food practically slid off the plates!  Something else I remember about Joy dish soap is the bubbles.  After I put some soap on the dish brush, I would set the bottle back on the counter and a small burst of tiny bubbles would fly up from the spout and float around the sink – probably from me squeezing the air from the bottle.  The sight of the little floating bubbles made me happy.  It seems the chemical engineers, the packaging designers and the marketing folks at Proctor and Gamble did everything they could to make sure that Joy made customers happy – and it did.  However, as happy as we were with Joy, Joy was not “joy”.  When the happiness in the bottle was gone, so was our joy.

Happiness can be quite narcissistic – dependent on a continual diet of getting what it wants in order for it to remain at high levels.  The quest for perpetual happiness can become a selfish addiction; an addiction without regard for the happiness of others; an addiction that lives by denying and anesthetizing itself against a less than happy reality.  Nirvana is the address of unending happiness – an address with no permanent residents.

True joy is something deeper than a sunny yellow, pretty smelling, bubbly bottle of dish soap.  Mark Zimmerman, morning host on Moody Radio Cleveland, at 90.1 FM locally, said something on December 4th that really got my attention.  He always shares things that make me think, but this word really spoke to me.  Mark said “Happiness is an emotion.  Joy is a condition.”  Exactly!  This condition comes from not expecting to be constantly happy, and from understanding the secret of contentment.  It gives one the ability to appreciate and embrace all of life as a complete package – a package that contains both good and bad.  Joy comes from believing in what you know to be right, even when it cannot be seen; like knowing even on the foggiest night, that the North Star is still there, even though you can’t see it.

Joy is not about having a “Pollyanna” attitude or blind optimism.   Sometimes, joy and happiness combine to create euphoria.  At other times, joy is just a small spark that powers the “in spite of” attitude that pushes you up life’s mountainsides.  Choosing joy is a step of faith – a decision to be “OK” with how things are, even without guarantees for the future.  Joy is an internal compass that points away from despair and toward hope.  It is like music in your soul that no one else can hear, but everyone else can see.

© 2013 Curt Savage Media

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