Here is a very interesting article by Rabbi Jacobson from www.meaningfullife.com. In a nutshell, he says that joy is a completely natural state. It’s not even an expression of a spiritual type of existence, it’s equated with life itself. if we can find some way of bridging that free abandon, that natural flow of a child with the seasoning and experience of an adult, then you’ve got yourself a winning package.
“We can learn a lot by observing children at their quintessential selves, because before children have been affected by society, parents, and community, they can sometimes give us a specimen of what our lives would be like before we were abused or hurt or disappointed.
Children have natural cheer. They have a natural, enchanted air about them; some would call it naivete because they haven’t yet tasted of the pains of life, but you can also say that it does definitely reflect on a certain natural state that we all have within us.
When does a child cease to be consistently cheerful? When a child first gets disappointed: the first grief or the first loss or the first disappointment. I would say, to put it in more cosmic terms, that you experience sadness the first time there’s some deception, some type of split in a person’s life. Sadness for the loss, sadness for what could have been, sadness for not getting what you want. But naturally speaking on a cosmic level, a soul, a spiritual entity or spiritual state, where you’re in complete touch with who you are and what you’re supposed to be doing, should be literally a seamless flow of joy.
In other words, from that perspective, joy is a completely natural state. It’s not even an expression of a spiritual type of existence, it’s equated with life itself. Like a fish swimming in its own waters has that type of natural cheer.
Now, living in a world of so much grief and pain, when we see someone joyous, it’s like a novelty for us, an exotic experience. But for someone who has that flow, that seamlessness, where there isn’t a dichotomy in life of what you want and what you expect or a deception of different forms, then joy comes very naturally, and that’s why children are joyous.
So their naivete in a sense serves them well because they haven’t yet tasted from what it means to live in a world of deception. Once they get those disappointments, the joy begins to bottle up to the point where it becomes so locked up for some, that it can’t even be accessed again.
It’s critical to see joy from this perspective, because if joy is an acquiredstate, something that you develop at some point (later) in your life, then a very strong argument can be made that once you’ve lost a reason to be happy, or you’ve suffered grief, there’s no way of reconnecting.
However, if joy is a natural state of feeling a certain sense of belonging, a feeling within that you are important and you have a value, then it’s just a question of reclaiming that right, not creating something new.
So the argument that I’m submitting to all of you is, that joy is something that each of us has in our hearts. Even if you are the saddest person and you haven’t smiled in years, you have a joy, a gladness in your heart, that may in some way be blocked or sealed away because you may not feel that there’s any reason to access it, but it’s there, and the key is learning how to dig into those reservoirs and draw from those wells of joy.
Psychology uses the words today, “inner child.” From a Torah point of view that’s nothing new. The inner child has always been a reality and the concept is essentially that the natural cheer, the natural spirituality, the enchantment and magic of child life is maintained throughout our lives.
However, once we mature into adults, the casings and personalities of our lives harden, and within them lies locked that child, that cheer, the natural exuberance of childhood. To truly live a meaningful life, a life of purpose and fulfillment, we must learn how to bridge the two. I’m not suggesting that we turn the clocks back and turn into children playing in sandlots, but if we can find some way of bridging that free abandon, that natural flow of a child with the seasoning and experience of an adult, then you’ve got yourself a winning package.
I would even say that our search for happiness, in different words, is trying to bridge those two elements.”