What Is Joy?

Tis the season to be joyful! Or at least that’s what we have been told. The holiday season has traditionally been a time of year when we are expected to spend quality time with friends and family, exchange gifts, and feel an overwhelming sense of love, joy, and peace on earth. The idea is entirely uplifting, yet, the resounding question of today remains; How can we push through the stresses that have been brought into the holidays over time, and tap into a place of pure and untainted joy? Through centuries of time, we’ve seen the added elements of commercialized celebration and peak consumer engagement during the holidays, and although it is sometimes noted that these elements can distract us from the true meaning of the season, I like to think that connecting with your inner joy during this time of the year is easier than some may believe.


Joy is “a source or cause of delight.” (Merriam-Webster)

You know, we have this tendency to place parameters on the effects of joy, and perhaps that may very well be due in part to the mass marketing of joy in correlation with certain holidays and seasons of the year. This is the way we sometimes think about joy, yet there is a way to see it for what it truly is! As someone who has worked in the advertising business before, I can attest to the fact that everyday virtues and elements of character are often being confused for goods that can be wrapped up and sold for any number of dollars, however, it is important to remember that virtues such as love, peace, and (of course) joy can never be purchased. The reason for this is that joy is an element that exists in all of us, it is something we are born with, and while we sometimes choose to live without it, it is always available for anyone who wants to receive it.


As we come together at this time of year in celebration, each of the many holidays observed has a different story of significance, however, each of them calls for a spirit of happiness and of gratitude. These feelings are supported by a sense of joy that lives in each of us, and do you know what it is that feeds your sense of joy? It is the love you share with your family and friends, the positive energy you receive and put out into the world that sustains your joy! At the beginning of this article, I mentioned consumer engagement and how we sometimes see it as something that adds stress to the season, however, this engagement can actually be helpful when it comes to bringing cheer! Did you know that the first retail holiday window was in 1874 when RH Macy “strung together an assortment of porcelain dolls posed in scenes from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin?” (Schulman 2018) For years, NYC retailers (aka dry goods palaces) would dress up their windows as holiday spectacles, and it was not until the following centuries that they would include advertorial purpose to actually get people into the stores.


What I have always found so fascinating about the windows is the wild colors, the larger than life figurines, and of course the awe-inspiring themes that bring these installations together year after year. Mike and I visit the holiday windows every year, and through all the craziness -the tourists, the shoppers, the workers, etc- we see these installations as a reminder to be happy, and that immediately triggers our sense of joy. Joy is defined Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as “a source or cause of delight,” and at times like these it is important to remember that the things that truly matter in this life cannot ever be purchased by or stolen from us. This is good news! It is important to share what joy looks and feels like, because we know that the world will be so much better if we just remember to be grateful for and kind unto one another.


What are your plans this holiday season? Are you cozied up by the fire in your New York City townhouse, or planning a sunny holiday in LA? Whatever you are doing, make sure you are surrounded by those you love most, and that everyone truly feels the joy from this time of year. During the month of November, we talked a lot about the spirit of gratitude, and how it will make you look better in photographs, and guess what? Gratitude is a byproduct of joy! So in case you were still searching for the perfect gift this holiday season, make sure you order gift certificates for the loved ones in your life this year. The power of photography is the power to document who you are, and if you have joy, then who you are is beautiful. From my family to yours, I wish you the happiest of holidays.

*snap you soon*

Love, LK