What's the difference between joy and amusement?
They almost seem interchangeable until you investigate what the word amusement means. I'm pretty sure you know that amusement isn't one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit...so what is it?
The root word is 'muse' which comes from Greek mythology. It spoke of nine goddesses who each held inspiration for certain subjects like literature, science & art. I bet you've heard the phrase, "the muses were smiling on them," meaning they seemed to have been inspired by some divine source in order to create something so spectacular.
The prefix 'a' means "without"or "not." So let's put that together shall we?
Amusement means "without inspiration" or "not inspired." But it goes even further. What if you use it as a verb? Then the word 'muse' means to ponder, think about, or consider. Amusement then means an activity without inspiration or thought, not exactly how I'd like to spend my limited time.
Because joy conveys delight and an intentional soul posture, I thought of ways that joy expresses itself in my life.
Joy in Silence
Joy is not synonymous with noise.
As a kid, one of my favorite things to do was to stare at the clouds as the formed. I still love it today.
Staring at the clouds, finding a wisp that grows and grows into a larger formation as water molecules find their way into families, clans, villages, cities, states and eventually (if you had hours!), into nations. It's a glorious process that can't help but offer perspective.
Silence bring your thoughts forward, so if silence is uncomfortable, instead of avoiding it and filling your life with more noise, ask yourself why. Why is silence hard to endure? Believe me, there's a world of joy waiting to be discovered there. It's worth fighting for!
Joy in Reading
Once, we slept on the floor in our living room for a few months just to challenge ourselves. We didn't use electricity for 3 months and found ourselves wondering what to do in the evenings. We decided to read aloud The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.
Pearl wrote about and living among Chinese culture. She wrote straight to the point while still offering a vivid picture of the characters and their inward motivations while revealing their flaws without creating disdain in the reader. In short, if you haven't read that trilogy, just stop right now and go read it. I guarantee it's at your local library.
As we read the story, soul-level questions arose. We began to relate the character's plight to our own lives. Lessons were learned, and wisdom was offered through the failings and successes of men and women in Buck's stories.
Chinese history came alive to me in those cold nights. And I do believe that I learned an important skill during those cold nights: listening.
Joy in Watching
It takes real effort to put down the phone, set aside the device and look someone in the face, and focus on what they are saying in the moment. The anorexia of watching without agenda has become widespread. We can hardly figure out what to do with ourselves when surrounded by people but no device. I think about casinos and airports.
A month ago I walked around the airport and everyone was glued to a screen. I was almost bumped into several times as travelers preferred their box to my face.
So I stopped and decided to watch people. I had a layover and turned my eyes and ears on. That's when the joy began to come.
I saw people, real souls moving to and fro. I captured God's heart for them. And if I had been glued to my phone, I would have captured a bit of dopamine, but nothing of significance, nothing worth remembering.
Humanity is fascinating if I allow myself the time to watch.
Joy in Conversation
On planes we are millimeters away from the next human, if you're riding coach like I do. Often, a screen is preferred; not speaking or eye contact.
Me? I relish the opportunity to learn about another person. Where they've come from, how they arrived at this point in their life...to reach out to another person's soul and recognize them as a fellow human being.
But the world doesn't facilitate this. Life is most precious when I can share dreams and ideas with those around me and it will not happen on its own. We must fight for it.
And to the stranger who talked with me on my way to TX, thank you for being a kind soul.
Joy in Music
Going back to our word 'muse' here is the perfect example. Music comes from the same word and it's no surprise...it's inspiring! Whether that's going to a concert, watching a symphony, looking up a YouTube video, having my child play their instruments or dancing around to a Spotify playlist...it all brings joy.
Music revives me in a way that nothing else can.
An encouraging song is medicine for the wounds I've been given, it speaks at the spirit level.
Music fits any emotion and any level of energy. I can't think of a more perfect form of entertainment than listening to music that I love. Here's someone's music I love!
Which one of the ways that I mentioned means the most to you? Which one do you want to cultivate more of in your life?