Joy is an accomplishment.
It seems like a mean joke that the Third Sunday of Advent, Joy Sunday, comes at the darkest time of the year. It should be Despair Sunday, Desolation Sunday, Despondency Sunday. Joy? On the longest night of the year, I am generally short on joy.
Unless, Joy Sunday symbolizes not what comes easiest, but what we need most. Highlighting a need, though, can be cruel without also providing some guidance about how to fulfill it. How do I get me some Joy?
Milo meets this need of mine both directly and metaphorically.
Joy is more than an 11 on the happiness meter. It is a way of being in the world. Milo is joyful. He inhabits his world in a way that invites and radiates happiness. He expects and offers unconditional love. His universe is comprised of toys and snacks, frolicking friends, learning new things, cuddles, and comfy spots to nap. Things happen between breakfast and playtime, but it is breakfast and playtime that get most of his attention. Milo has his demons, but he is quick to respond to good things around him. His cup overfloweth.
In a sense, he is built for Joy. His temperament includes really high drives for food and prey and those drives have very low thresholds. That means that he loves to eat, and loves to chase and will do either at the drop of a hat. Put that together with his abundant energy, and you have a dog that interacts exuberantly with his world.
But, his temperament also means that he is easily frustrated and could have made him a big, mean, cranky dog. It didn’t because he learned that his environment is safe and predictable, which gives him a degree of agency and control of the world around him.
I meet his needs for food and exercise, for companionship and affection, for mental stimulation and learning. He is set up for joy both by his disposition and his environment.
So, how do I get Joy? First, I spend time with this big goofy guy. ❤
Then, I eat well and exercise, develop relationships with my fellow creatures, and indulge my curiosity and exercise my creativity. Those things do more than make me happy, they open me to happiness.