For the last 10 years or so of my life, I've been radically consumed with my quality of life and happiness. It started the first time I picked up one of the first issues of Monocle Magazine which just happened to be purely focused on their annual quality of life survey. I literally sat on the floor in the corner of a now-defunct Borders Books and Music for about seven hours devouring each sentence with even more vigor than the last. I can remember leaving that night and feeling like a new human being.
From that day on I began exploring to the nth degree what happiness meant and looked like for me. As most people do when they fancy themselves all changed and brand new, the first thing they do is attempt to look up and define their new found obsession. When I looked up happiness, all I got was the state of being happy and that it was a noun. Now picture me saying, what the fuck is that, how am I supposed to embark on this new journey with that. I dug a bit deeper and found that: "In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy." That definition helped me feel a bit more comfortable, with my brand new ass, but still didn't quite do it, it did, however, allow me to zero in on the last two words - intense joy.
Still having very little clarity around the differences between happiness and joy, yet desperate to learn, I immediately went back to psychology, because everyone else didn't really seem to know shit. What the good folks at Psychologies helped me understand was that "Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience, but are very different. Joy is more consistent and cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, places, things, thoughts, and events." After sitting with this for a while, for the most part, it made sense. I don't completely believe that happiness is always triggered by other people, places, things, events, etc., but not many things are absolutes, so I get it.
Anyway, getting back to joy, if it is indeed cultivated internally and comes when you make peace with who you are, then why should we ever allow our joy to be up for negotiation. Why should anyone have a real say so about our self-acceptance, self-validation, and even self-importance? Joy has also been defined as the prospect of possessing what one desires. For me, some of those possessions include peace, safety, autonomy, comfort, smiles, being heard and the ability to choose.
Much too often in relationships of all types I allowed my joy to be used as a bargaining tool of sorts, ultimately allowing my own comfort with who I am and what I needed to be diminished and questioned; in exchange for something else or to allow someone clearly lacking joy to take a bit of mine away. Thinking back on these times, I don't fault anyone but myself. I consented to something I knew didn't feel good, and continued to say yes to something that should have been off limits to begin with. As painful as it is to admit, negotiating my joy was choosing someone else, questioning, devaluing and divesting in myself, all the while clearly sacrificing the quality of my life; not because I didn't know better, but because I feared losing someone else more than I feared losing one of the most important parts of me, MY JOY!
It's been quite a bit of time (years) since my joy has been up for negotiation and since I don't necessarily believe in telling fully formed humans what to do (queue autonomy), unless their decisions and opinions are rooted in bitchassness and/or ignorance, I'll only say most people wouldn't dream of negotiating their limbs, so why consider something equally as, if not more vital to overall health, wellness and quality of life like your JOY!