Joy as a Medicine


"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones"


Laughing releases endorphins, disease fighting cells, and builds the immune system. Let’s add some joy to your life!


We can learn a lot by observing children as 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 naiveté because they haven't yet tasted 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.


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. 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 acquired state, something that you develop at some point (later in life), then a 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 sense of belonging, a feeling within you that you are important and you have a value, then it's just a question of reclaiming that right, not creating something new.


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 the sandbox, 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. Some people at work are just happy with their job, they're happy. Usually there are a few ingredients that contribute to happiness. Ingredient number one is that they feel needed. They feel appreciated that they’re doing their job, they don’t feel negligible, they don’t feel taken advantage of, they feel that they belong, they feel that their particular talents or strengths are being utilized and appreciated. That’s an extremely important ingredient and I’m speaking here purely on an ostensible level without even getting to anything deeper than that. So what is the significance of this feeling wanted, of this sense of belonging? It means that there’s something that’s touching you that allows you to be yourself. You don’t have to accommodate anyone, you don’t have to tailor your behavior or your actions toward unnatural or unrealistic expectations. You can come in and do your job, and you’ll be appreciated for that. That sense of belonging, using spiritual terms, is essentially a sense that God put you here for a purpose and you are wanted and needed. When you have that type of inner security, its leads to natural joy. Indeed, that inner security is essentially one and the same with inner joy.