When Joy Feels Weird

Nnebuugo Paul.
4 min readJun 24, 2023

The usual reaction to joy is happiness, right?

Has something good ever happened to you, say a promotion or something you’ve been waiting for, finally comes through, and instead of being overwhelmed with gratitude, you feel bleh? It has a name. It is called Anhedonia.

Anhedonia, or the inability to derive joy or happiness from anything around us, is a common indication of an underlying mental health issue such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or anxiety — happiness.com

Well, it happens to most of us. I’m not a mental health expert, so that’s not what this article is about. Truthfully, I don’t know where I am going with this piece, but here goes nothing.

Sometimes, I feel like, this seemingly resistance to joy happens because we work so hard for almost everything. We work so hard to make good grades, we work so hard to land the perfect job, and when we do, we work so hard to stand out, and when we do, we are told the reward for good work is more work and so we work and work, and work, and so, sometimes, good-news meets us exhausted.

It’s one of the many reasons I am grateful for salvation. I’m thankful it’s by faith in Christ Jesus alone because I try to be good. I know how hard it can be, and because of this, I am grateful God saw the bigger picture.

When we are not working too hard for something good, we are managing expectations. We don’t want to be too excited about something good because what if it doesn’t last? We don’t want to be too enthusiastic about love, not tweet too much about it, or post and talk about our partner too much, even if that’s all we want to do, and it makes us so happy because of the fear of breakfast.

Even when relocating, which, depending on the conditions, can be really good news, we don’t want to tell people because what if village people find a way to ensure that the plane does not take off or the visa does not get approved, you know how we constantly dip our hands in our purse of what ifs to dig one up every now and then.

We don’t want to get too excited about promotion either, because impostor syndrome with not let us breathe, the fear of “oh, what if everybody finds out that I am a fraud” when the truth is, we are all frauds, we are all winging it. That’s why people learn constantly so they are not exposed; they learn to keep up appearances. If you didn’t know this, you are welcome. If Messi is still being called a fraud, beat your chest and ask yourself, “Who am I?”

We are all frauds, my dear. In the end, we are just trying our best.

Whether it’s a case of working too hard for something good or managing expectations, there are two things I have learned. One, joy is found. Joy is found, and things that are found are usually sought after. I said all that to encourage you to seek out joy deliberately. A friend puts on her WhatsApp status every morning, “Today is the happiest day of my life.” The first day I saw it, I thought something huge had happened to her, and I congratulated her, but then, I saw it the next day, the day after that, and the week after that, and I realized what she was doing, she was seeking joy!

I have another friend that tweets and puts on her status, “Today is a good day, I will see the good in today” same thing, seeking out joy. One time, I was lamenting to someone about something, and he said, “Oh, look, it has a bright side,”- seeking out joy. It’s not easy, and sometimes, it makes you look crazy, but you get used to it and once you do, it illuminates your whole life. Trust me, I know.

The other thing I have learned is the heart can hope again. You know how people always say the heart can love again? Well, the heart can hope again. You just have to be willing to let it. Sometimes we get attached to our pain, and we let that attachment stop us from newness. We hold onto hurtful memories till we start to bleed afresh. Letting go of an experience that broke you is not a betrayal of your scars; it is giving them time and space to heal well.

I hope that you learn to be excited about life again. I hope that you let joy embrace you tightly and that when good news comes, you wobble it down like a good meal and let it nourish you. I hope you savor it like a sweet scent and let it make you merry. Above all, I hope that good things find you and that when they do, they stay.

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Nnebuugo Paul.

Words are beautiful, stories are beautiful pieces of memories.