Joy, no doubt, can be experienced alone. I take delight in things Betty doesn’t (e.g. Monty Python’s comedy, Bruce Springsteen’s music, skiing). But I’m noticing how joy becomes wider and deeper and richer when enjoyed in community.
I simply find joy more frequently with others rather than by myself (when I’m left to stew on my thoughts which easily make a south-bound turn). Then there’s the multiplication factor to gladness with others, like we’re building and adding on to one another’s joy. I can laugh out loud at a funny story, but get together with friends to swap stories and the hilarity is infectious. And sometimes it’s just plain unstoppable – I can remember so many times – with family or friends, in class or at church – when no matter how hard I tried to stifle a snicker or hold back a laugh, it just wasn’t possible. The power of laughter can be irrepressible and yet somehow that never happens to me by myself.
I love the African notion of ubuntu (“I am because we are”); it’s a way of life that places the accent on togetherness, that the human experience is best known in community. I think joy is best experienced this way too, that it gets amplified and extended when it is caught up in the company of others.
It may be the best thing for choosing joy is to live ubuntu, simply making the choice to be found with others. Your joy might depend on someone else just as much as their joy depends on you showing up.