Teaching Joy


“Mama’s toys!” Philip said, while pointing onto a pile of books on the floor, with colored pens on the side. My son knows my joy. He knows what truly delights his mother, I mused.

I wonder if all moms and dads out there are also able to communicate their deepest joys to their children? More often than not, they know about our work. Philip knows that the moment I open my laptop, it means work. So it was quite a surprise to me that he would be able to distinguish my joy. I guess unknowingly, while I read, or write, and did my devotions, my joy becomes magnified in the eyes of a small child.


Life has a way of moving us forth into “adulting.” The moment you step outside of your first home and begin paying your own bills, you already have some sense of it. You have no choice but to be realistic and soon feel the need to re-order life around what feeds and sustains you. While this is good, we also have a tendency to let it completely take over our lives and eventually forget to stop for true joys. When I say this I do not mean self-pleasure, but profound inspiration and recreation. To recreate the moment when you first discovered that you loved doing something. Like singing, or dancing, or writing, or reading.


Children’s psychology says that play is not just play to them, but that they are doing important work. This is when they discover. This is when they nurture their imagination, which can play a big part in creating their adult life later on. It has such a profound impact on them because they did it without detesting the work, but simply because they extracted joy from the work.


I’d like to think that we also need to play as adults. Not play in the sense of “work hard, play hard.” Which, more often than not, means drinking and partying hard.


The play I mean to propose is to keep doing something that is not out of necessity or compulsion, but purely because of joy. To sing, dance, write, read, not for compensation, but for a personal boost or inspiration.


Lifestyle Editor of the Manila Bulletin, AA Patawaran, says, “When you read for fun, that is when you most benefit from a book.”


Author Pam Pastor says, “It is up to you to feed your soul.” She says not everything she writes she likes, so she needs to continuously write something that nurtures her soul alongside her deadlines at work.


I pray that all of us today, especially the parents out there, will also do our souls good by nurturing some kind of personal joy in our lives. Set aside time to read, write, sing, dance, paint, run, not for anything but for the pure joy of it. Because apparently, kids do not only inherit good manners, discipline, proper behavior and language from us, but also our ability to invite joy in our life. What a beautiful thing to teach them, right?


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