From the Seriousness of Life to Joie de Vivre

As a young girl I would spend a lot of time observing people’s reactions and behaviour. I’d observe the people around me and wonder who they were and what they were doing, and I couldn’t help but notice that they seemed to be taking life very seriously. Everyone seemed to lack any ‘Joie de Vivre’ for life!

As a child I soon learned from others’ reactions when it was OK for me to smile and when it was OK to laugh. Most of the time it seemed like I was expected to act serious but what I truly wanted was to shine and to show the world the natural joy living inside of me.

However, I started to live my life with this same intensity and seriousness. While I imagined my life as an adventure, in reality it was such a serious matter, and before long, living became something that I endured rather than enjoyed. I went to a Catholic school and life became even more serious, and it felt like the expectations of how to act, how to behave, intensified.

In this environment I learned how to ‘do’ things, how to get recognised for my achievements; it was all very serious and controlled.

It was only when I was by myself in my bedroom that I could really enjoy myself as I would imagine a world where everyone would be smiling and laughing and connecting with each other with such joy. Whilst this was my secret life, I felt it was the true me.

I had a similar experience with the Catholic Church, a place we would faithfully visit every week as a family. It was all a very serious matter – nothing to laugh about, and very few opportunities to be joyful, let alone shine when I felt to celebrate myself: no, I had to be serious in life and behave myself.

However, there was one part I remember enjoying: I loved sitting near the church organ when my mother sang in the choir. Later on this inspired me to sing in a choir as well. It seemed like it was one of the only places in the church where you were allowed to be joyful, but only if the joy was dedicated to something or someone outside of oneself. How could you be joy-full about yourself?

As a teenager I recall acting out with some rebellion in an attempt to reclaim the joy I felt I had lost in my earlier years. I moved out of my parents’ home and lived on my own, earned my own money, and did whatever I wanted. But this was all a bit of a disappointment really – lots of alcohol, one night stands, and a lot of hangovers were the result of having so called fun, but there was definitely no joy in any of it.

Then I met someone I felt I could trust. He was very playful and a perfect match for the joy I felt on the inside, but seriousness entered this relationship as well, especially when we got married and had children. We deliberately tried to raise our children in a different way…. but in truth, it was only a slightly different ‘flavour’ of seriousness, when compared to the experiences of my youth with the Catholic Church and their education system.

For our children we chose a Rudolf Steiner school and as a family we took on what they dictated, a way of life and how to act with our children.

At first we felt we embraced their philosophy, but in truth we were limited in the expression of our true selves and with taking on their ideals and beliefs, the seriousness of life was there again.

Now upon reflection I can see how I allowed the seriousness I felt in church and in the education system to pervade every part of my life in order to fit in and survive. This brings up much sadness in me as I know that seriousness in my life is the opposite of the joy I feel on the inside.

I have discovered that in each moment I have a choice to connect to the natural feeling of joy inside me, or to the seriousness outside of me.

Eight years ago I met Serge Benhayon – a living example of someone who is living his true self and shares the joy he feels inside with all equally. One thing I learned from him was the Gentle Breath Meditation, a simple tool to connect and stay with myself. Whenever I feel my joy is being suppressed, I choose to breath gently and connect with what I know is true.

Looking back on my life now as a 54 year old woman I can see that the big bubble of joy I feel inside me has been there all along and has been patiently waiting to come out and to be expressed in full in every minute of every day.

And I can say that I am ready, more than ever before, to show the world my joy – my Joie de Vivre! This joy is there to reflect to everyone in the world, to offer the serious people in this world an opportunity to connect with what is living inside them. Maybe they will choose to forget about their serious role or image and just allow themselves to be, just as children are when they are living in their natural joy and playfulness.

So on reading this blog if you suspect that you feel there is a seriousness in life, or that you can’t find the joy in living and it doesn’t feel quite right, have a look inside yourself – what is bubbling inside of you?

Perhaps, like me, there is a vast spring of untapped joy just waiting to be felt and expressed. Live in your fullness, in your ‘Joie de Vivre’ to feel and show the world all of who you are. The choice is yours!

Thanks to Serge Benhayon and all the many Students of The Livingness for reflecting who I am, and inspiring me to live in full every day.

 by Annelies van Haastrecht, Warnsveld, Holland

Further reading:
Time to Play

862 thoughts on “From the Seriousness of Life to Joie de Vivre

  1. Is it any wonder why so many of our teenagers rebel at life with all the rules and regulations that are imposed on us all from a very young age? As you share Annelies this seriousness that is endemic in our way of life squashes our natural expression, which is the necessary foundation to our joie de vivre.

  2. I can so relate to living in seriousness rather than joy, and I can see many people around me doing the same having learnt to put a lid on expressing the joy we are at a young age – then looking for some ‘out’ time to let off the steam a little and call that fun. It’s a very much a work in progress for me to reconnect back to who I am in truth and let joy be a natural expression of mine again.

  3. It is deeply empowering and life changing to come to a place where you truly know and can embrace the fact that each moment is a choice to either connect to the joy within, or give our power to and be controlled by the seriousness outside of ourselves.

  4. It is a very powerful moment when one realizes just how much ‘control’ we have in our lives, and the affect that this has on our bodies, nervous systems, our relationships and each other.

    1. Thank you Cjames2012, there is a lot to reflect on in your comment, control indeed has a powerful effect on our health etc as you say. Joy would be a much better choice with equally powerful effects!

  5. ‘I have discovered that in each moment I have a choice to connect to the natural feeling of joy inside me, or to the seriousness outside of me.’ And I am experiencing when I change my movements, so how I sit, stand or walk either supports the choice to let my natural expression of joy out or to supports to stay in the seriousness.

    1. So true Annelies, sometimes I observe how my body has become almost rigid as I have not moved it when I was impulsed to move it, and instead choosing to stay longer on the computer for example and over-riding my body at the same time…. Bringing awareness to my posture and making any refinements however small truly supports to bring me back to myself if I am ‘out’.

  6. Annelies this is a beautiful example of choice and how we can change our lives by making a choice to move from our joyful inner expression or to move from an age old belief or image that we have held for a long time and may no longer allow us to be all of who we are? When we explore our movements even if its just a small adjustment to our walk or even how we pick up a glass, we can completely alter the flow and quality of our bodies and that brings the joie de vivre to the forefront of our daily living.

  7. Joy is infectious in our world as there is little of it! Making this part of our way of living not only brings us closer to what we know life can truly be but also a great reflection for all that we met along the way!

  8. Yes Annelise – ‘…there is a vast spring of untapped joy just waiting to be felt and expressed.’ And this joy is ever-present and possible to live through our choice to live in connection to our love that naturally resides within us all.

  9. One of the many wonderful things I have learnt through the joyful and loving reflection of Serge Benhayon is not to dim my joy and light because of the reactions of others or because I think it might upset them. We often bring ourselves down when others are miserable thinking how can I be so joyful when they are so miserable? But the most loving thing we can do is to be and express all the love, joy and truth that we are in full without making it less and inspire others as that is who we all are in essence.

    1. This is so true Nicola, the moment we dim or dull our light and lightfulness, then we are playing into the game of seriousness and allowing another’s way of being to dictate how we ‘should’ be. I have experienced that so many times where another is very angry or serious or upset and as a result I dim myself down so as not to make them more upset – in effectI have ‘enjoined’ them in their anger or misery! If we do this, then it is at the detriment of ourselves and them too! We cannot dim our light just because another is upset. This is of course with all due respect to whatever the person is going through (experiencing the death of a loved one, a family feud etc) – but it is about holding ourselves and this in turn can be very ‘infectious’ and support the other person out of their misery or heaviness. There is no need to compromise our light at any point.

      1. Thank you, our joy is indeed from our soul and to express that is to return to our oneness, to not express that joy (or any quality of the soul) is to be less than who we truly are, we then stand out separate to the oneness and are both identified in that expression and individual.

    2. Misery loves company… I have been around many a person who has not only fought to hang onto their own misery but also acted in a way that said they expected others to join them and become miserable also. Why would we choose for misery for self and prefer it in others when joy is on offer?

  10. It’s so easy to choose something like seriousness to avoid being the innate playful person you are. It’s like any ‘type’ of personality we buy into, it’s all a distraction, an opportunity to ignore our essence and be vulnerable.

  11. Annelies – thank you for this wonderful reminder to have fun and not be so serious! I have been allowing too much seriousness to creep in lately…it is time to allow our natural fun and joy to come out and express itself, for this breaks up so much heaviness that can creep in. After all if there is any seriousness and heaviness, then it cannot be from the Soul, for our natural way of being is light and caring with much laughter together.

  12. Joy, as well as love and harmony is our natural expression. We have to spend a lot of energy to put a lid on these. No wonder so many of us are exhausted most of the time.

  13. Once we start to embrace the joy which resides within us, we come to the realisation that it is infinite and how much we choose to live this in our daily lives, stems from our willingness to surrender to the fact that there is always more joy for us to embrace and to share with the world and beyond.

  14. When we change our choices and feel the joy from within ourselves, and express from that love and joy we feel, we are able to equally share that joy with everyone.

  15. Thank you Annelies, I can really relate to the observation of seriousness in adults as a child, as opposed to my natural lightness and joy. I also joined the seriousness brigade for some periods as I grew and became an adult but it did not feel natural to me, it felt quite heavy and suppressive. I have also noticed being serious seems to be related to being an adult and is almost a requirement. When I look back I see that joy was my natural essence as a child, and as I learn to reconnect to that essence within me joy is a natural part of my day to day life again.

  16. It is interesting how you share that you felt your choices in parenting were simply variations on a theme. And I love your end paragraph is a delightful reminder of where to look for a perspective that is true!

  17. How about seriously joyful…I take life more seriously than I ever have, I feel that serious, although it can be connected to something heavy as can the word responsibility, for me, seriousness is about an earnestness and a commitment, and yet I am more playful, light and joyful than I have ever been. Taking life more seriously has meant for me more responsibility and a whole lot more appreciation. I love what you say about the joy of life, no more heavy, but light on our feet!

    1. I love what you have said here Samantha. You have voiced exactly what has been welling up in me about this subject of ‘seriously joyful!’

  18. I have always experienced joie de vivre and my great trouble has been in suppressing it to make others comfortable and not overwhelmed. I did go through a stage of wanting to be ‘cool’ in my twenties but that soon passed as I realise that I could not master cool and that joy kept on popping up its head. Now I am learning to deepen this joy so that it is a true emanation of the divine.

    1. How much do we suppress to fit in and to be nice so other won’t have something to complain about us. I love what you say here Lyndy how you tried to be ‘cool’ and how joy said ‘hello there’ every time to remind you about your divine nature.

  19. “I had to be serious in life and behave myself” brings back memories of being told to sit still, behave and be quiet! (basically stop shining!) which feels so rigid in the body. An experience that brings about so much tension and suppressing of a very natural outpouring of Joy that naturally emanates out to all.

    1. True Marion, we are asked to stop shining from a very young age and I still sometimes feel how my posture can be one of an apology to take in space, when I notice this it is just choosing again what I know is true, to shine and feel the joy of being here.

  20. I know all too well the seriousness you speak of – I can be very serious! But what’s lovely is that in recent years, inspired by Serge Benhayon, I have begun to let out the natural joy within me. I can still get caught up in being serious, but less and less the more I choose to just be myself.

  21. I used to call my self a serious person, but lately I am seeing my seriousness was a choice and with any choice, you always have the option to change it.

  22. ‘So on reading this blog if you suspect that you feel there is a seriousness in life, or that you can’t find the joy in living and it doesn’t feel quite right, have a look inside yourself – what is bubbling inside of you?’ What a great question. What is bubbling inside you?

  23. Indeed Annelies the choice is always ours. I love the simplicity and truth of what you have expressed here, thank you;
    “I have discovered that in each moment I have a choice to connect to the natural feeling of joy inside me, or to the seriousness outside of me”.

  24. Annelies, this is beautiful to read and reminds me not to be too serious. I have a very joyful and playful son who reflects to me not be too serious, he shows me that in any task or situation there can be joy, connection and fun; from washing up and going to the supermarket to walking down the street.

  25. “While I imagined my life as an adventure, in reality it was such a serious matter, and before long, living became something that I endured rather than enjoyed.” Umm this is something I can recognise I did too Annelies, I thought I was having fun because I was independent and free and single with money to spend but there was an emptiness I felt that would not go away and I can see now I was filling my life by seeking things to fulfil me rather than just enjoying me and all that I am. Nowadays there are no highs and lows just an enjoyment of life in everything I do.

  26. From now on every time I find myself in a serious mood I will know that I have lost my inner connection and I will remember the wise words shared here by Annelies, and will take a look and feel the beauty of what is bubbling up from deep within me.

  27. I do not think as adults that we consider just how deeply young children observe the world. There is the mistaken belief that they are lacking in intelligence, and if you abide by the precept that intelligence is based on the accumulation of knowledge, then you would be correct. But even science has shown that our greatest capacity for learning, or intelligently discerning life, is actually when we are young. It is, of course, when we are also most impressionable to life’s experiences. The point is, part of the mistake we make in raising children is that we treat them as children rather than as discerning human beings.

  28. Thank you Annelies for you unfettered expression of the joy that is innate in you and in us all equally – a very beautiful sharing that reminds us all that we have a choice.

  29. I used to get annoyed when people around be were being playful or silly. Such was my need to keep everything within me capped and to be serious. These days I am feeling the tension of serious much more and how releasing and freeing it is to be playful, joyful and silly. Reading this blog has me appreciating what those moments bring and how much they break up the dull, miserable seriousness so effortlessly.

  30. I am very joyful, I naturally enjoy connecting and appreciating and this has grown the more that I been observing life and not reacting to everything I thought was not right. There is so much support, sweetness and playfulness in everyday life if we open up to it.

  31. Oh yes, life can be far too serious, as we get caught up in making a living and surviving or getting by. This describes how I used to live and be – being serious was the face I adopted. I am much more aware of this but still this shadow of being serious can so easily creep over me again when I drop my awareness. It is a constant choice to stay present in my body.

  32. We are naturally joy-full – to not experience and express our joy is a disease and a very serious dis-ease at that.

    1. Yes, and the sooner that is generally acknowledged then the sooner it will be taken seriously (with joy).

  33. Recently I was pondering on just how light and joyful I was as a child and how much ease I felt in my body. This was great to feel and I really get what you are saying here about joy naturally being inside of us and seriousness is outside of us and not who we are but we can choose to take it on.

  34. A pertinent read for me today as I have felt a bit too serious lately and joy has been lacking! Thank you.

  35. I simply love being in nature and always find that this gorgeous sense of wonderment and joy just encompasses me and reminds me of when I was a little girl playing in the garden picking flowers and talking to the fairies and gnomes in the back of my garden. The joy and vitality of our younger years is always there it just takes one simple choice to stop and enjoy the world around us with an open heart and the innocence of a child.

  36. I like the reminder that the joy we are seeking is not far away. It’s bubbling up inside just waiting to be connected to. Thank you Annelies for sharing how you went from serious to joyful.

  37. Like a magnet being pulled back to the north, when we feel vital and great, it’s like there’s an opposite force that comes in to drag us the other way. No matter how sweet we are, it seems it’s only a matter of time till we get pulled down. It seems so hard to be joyful and light. But isn’t that the greatest trick Annelies? For the truth is we are all being pulled up every moment of every day to live in a loving way.

    1. True Joseph, we are all being pulled up constantly but when we are caught in the illusion of what life seems to be and not look beyond and find our true purpose as in making life about light, a joyful energy we can choose 24/7, it seems hard (and sometimes even impossible for a lot of people).

  38. Thank you Annelies for expressing so beautifully the bubble of joy that we all have within us. For me the skin of my bubble is so thick it needs constant pricking, as it still not fully burst.

  39. One has to ask and wonder why we have accepted and allowed it to be normal to be serious when when you are serious all you feel is a tension of wanting to be light and joyful because seriousness is not actually a very plesant or natural feeling to feel. Perhaps the power and wisdom of this untapped joy would naturally expose how so many pleasure in the many unnecessary complexities and dramas of life?

    1. Some people enjoy being serious, some people love misery and heaviness – these can all give a feeling of importance and identification. There is a big difference between being serious and being sincere or committed. Equally joy is not about happiness – we have bastardised the meaning of words and very often lost connection to our awesome essence!

  40. Annelies, your writing ignites the one and same joy within me. Joy is a confirmation of the energy we have expressed returning back to us. When this energy is true love, the joy that is felt is two sparks of light in full ignition. And yes – the world is hungry for this because it is our innate expression and we have withheld it for too long.

    There are some great quotes and audio on Joy here:

  41. This blog is so relatable to me. For much of my life I have measured how much joy I will be off the reactions of other. In this I have viewed the world as hard and built my body up just as hard in order to protect me from the harshness. Which to me now seems crazy, it’s like when we tell kids not to hit back for it never solves anything. The same goes for hardening ones self against a perceived hard world. We never solve it, we only enjoin.

  42. I can relate with what you share in that I too had become serious in life and had to behave myself, ‘In this environment I learned how to ‘do’ things, how to get recognised for my achievements; it was all very serious and controlled.’ I can feel and know I am naturally playful and joyful, but still can be serious, thank you for reminding me it is as simple as connecting to the natural joy inside of us.

  43. “Everyone seemed to lack any ‘Joie de Vivre’ for life!” spot on thats how I felt as a kid, I wonder however as I grew up why I then fell into that same lack of Joie de Vivre and what reflection I provided kids growing up. Today I am re-connecting to my Joie de Vivre and am super inspired by kids including my daughter.

  44. It’s hard work trying to be something you are not, hence the seriousness we get bogged down in when we are not living true to who we are. Ever seen a small healthy child be serious for long? It is not in their nature as they are too busy just being themselves and joy is a big part of this as it is an innate quality of who we are and is one of the 5 qualities of our Soul along with Truth, Stillness, Harmony and Love. What this means is that this bubble of true joy we have each felt, albeit fleetingly at times, can never pop, it simply gets buried beneath a mountain of seriousness that we pile on top of it when we do not live in connection with our true self – our Soul.

  45. Thank you Annelies, I enjoyed reading your blog again and could relate to this line “I started to live my life with this same intensity and seriousness.” Just walking down the street I can feel the intensity and seriousness everyone lives in, it’s very much the norm, and it’s almost like a rite of passage to adulthood that we cut the joy, silliness, and playfulness to earn the title of adult. I have read that there is now a trend for kindergartens to remove play based learning for a more structured academic style environment. This shows how we value a rigid, controlled, knowledge based learning environment, not just in education but throughout all of life.

  46. Yes lets show the world our joy, ‘This joy is there to reflect to everyone in the world, to offer the serious people in this world an opportunity to connect with what is living inside them.’

  47. Go for it Annelies, our world certainly needs joy, ‘I can say that I am ready, more than ever before, to show the world my joy – my Joie de Vivre! This joy is there to reflect to everyone in the world,’ and by this reflection remind others that they too can choose to be joyful.

  48. It was great coming back to your blog again Annelies, and be reminded how easily we can be swayed by what is going on around us and loose our Joie de Vivre. I did this as a child, I would be feeling great one minute feeling light and playful and then someone would say something hurtful and I would withdraw and no longer feeling the lightness that was there just a few minutes ago. I know I took this into my adult life and even now if I don’t catch it I can revert back to my childhood way of coping with certain situations.

  49. When I was younger, I always felt like needed permission to shine. I allowed myself to feel a control over me from many around me. This impacted how I viewed myself growing up. I have since learned to truly connect to myself and people and let them in. This enables a very naturally joyful way of being, which I find encourages others to join me in my joy.

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