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    How to Make Joy

    Daily Stoic Emails

    Joy is good. Who doesn’t like joy?

    The question is where does it come from—is it accidental or is it something you pursue? The Stoics would say that it’s neither. To Marcus Aurelius, joy was something you did. It was a process.

    As he writes, “Joy for humans lies in human actions. Human actions: Kindness to others, contempt for the senses, the interrogation of appearances, observations of nature and events in nature.” 

    By contempt and interrogation, he means not being distracted by false pleasures and passions—not making the mistake of thinking that joy is success or money or sex. No, joy is doing good for others. It’s a walk along a river, seeing the small fish darting in the shallows. It’s watching a horse be brushed down, it’s watching the stalks of grain bend under their own weight, as Marcus noted. Joy is being with your children, joy is reading a well-written book. 

    This is a simpler definition of joy, of course, but that is also good. It means you can make it and have it any time you like. Including this morning. Including on the days when you get fired or find out that someone you know has passed away, including the times you’re stuck in traffic or on an interminable hold with customer service. 

    Joy lies in human actions. Actions you can take right now.

    P.S. This was originally sent on October 12, 2020. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.