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
Joy

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

  1. I find the seriousness very heavy, it’s very cloying and like a dark cloud. What I have noticed is joy is unconditional, it doesn’t come from what is happening in life, in fact we can be talking about something quite disturbing like abuses in the world but expressing joy simply because it’s the truth of who we are. We don’t have to become part of the disharmony, and we can still care deeply without losing our joy when we examine what’s going on in the world.

  2. Sometimes we could be deadly serious but isn’t that the moment we just want to burst out laughing and it feels hilarious?

  3. It is a classic reaction when we feel our upbringing has not been that great and we want to bring up our own children differently, and yet all we do is give the same upbringing but with a slightly different flavour or twist to it. So many of us fall for this and it is not till we realise what we have been caught up in that we can begin to understand and unravel what we have created. Thankfully I too have been blessed to meet Serge Benhayon and his reflection of family and a truer way of bringing up our children, and though I am still working on so much to let go of, I am also understanding more and more about true parenting, true mothering and true fathering and this is the start of true change.

  4. As sensitive children we do learn very quickly that certain ways of being will cause others to react and then as a result to avoid the reactions of others we learn to cap our true and full expression. But how unnatural is this? And how crazy is it that we choose to do this capping over and above our natural expression? Since when did it become more important to be controlled and reduce our true expression rather than let another react to what they see and feel in us but in the process perhaps be inspired to also express more from the natural connection within? We all do this and I can certainly relate to it completely – but I do think that it is rather crazy that we allow for this – it is certainly worth pondering on.

  5. Who are we really kidding when we leave home and set up on our own and we think we can do anything when actually for most of us we just do what we have been shown by our parents, family and society; and I agree with you Annelies, it is a disappointment because we have just replaced one for another, there is little difference and so we tick the boxes and function in life just as our parents have. There is absolutely no fun in this way of living at all, I would say it’s existing. And for me it wasn’t until I met Serge Benhayon and attended the workshops and presentations that my life started to change, and I can say I now have a sense of purpose and joy in my life.

  6. Thanks Annelies, I am surprised more is not written on this topic, maybe because seriousness is the norm we don’t question it, when actually Joy could be our normal. This line really highlights how much joy we do or don’t have in our lives “… and before long, living became something that I endured rather than enjoyed.” I’m sure many people feel this way, I know I do at times, a great marker for where we are at in terms of expressing our true selves and the joy inherent within.

    1. So true Gill – children are a reflection and a reminder of the joy that bubbles within each of us and is ready to be expressed. And sometimes for some people this can be a painful reminder in that that joy has been capped for so long it feels hard and painful to let it out again!

  7. You sometimes hear a comment, put down, ‘Oh, you’re being so childish’ when that bubble of joyfulness irrepressibly comes to the surface of the mask of seriousness.

  8. This is really lovely to read Annelies and reminds that I too have this natural joy, as do we all; ‘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.’

  9. I’ve been very rigid and serious all my life. I thought by doing crazy things -which all involved putting my health at risk in some way- was me showing the world seriousness wasn’t it. But I was still as hurt and sad inside as ever. I was super irresponsible too – I thought being responsible meant being serious.

    Only recently I got a shock. I was still super rigid in how I live life. At first I wanted to point out all the crazy things I once did to prove otherwise but then I had to get honest and feel how conformist I was to whatever ideals I had running me. Bit of a process but I am feeling my way back to fun. There are many times when I do feel the bundle of joy that I am. It’s joyful being out and about.

  10. “…just as children are when they are living in their natural joy and playfulness.” When I read this line I realised how much joy and playfulness I live in, and that it does feel just like being a child, and that I can appreciate all the changes I have made that now allow this natural joy out.

  11. “As a child I soon learned from others’ reactions when it was OK for me to smile and when it was OK to laugh.” This is so true, there is a lot of manipulation going on in parenting children (and in life after that) we are not yet fully aware of. For instance when we laugh from joy and nobody else does or everybody ignores us we ‘learn’ that that is not the thing to do in those moments.

  12. Have you noticed in being naturally joyful it inspires others and can cut those serious situations that can often pull you down. (if allowed too) Bring on the joy, its ability to heal is amazing.

  13. I notice sometimes an old pattern creep back in of flip-flopping – saying one thing, and then when someone disagrees, saying the complete opposite to what I’d just said, to agree with them. Reading this blog has got me pondering on why I do this: it’s as if I’ve expressed ‘too much’ joy and when that gets met with disapproval – even in the most subtlest of ways, it can even be a question – I doubt myself. This happens less and less, as I build my connection to my body and what I can feel – but it shows that old patterns, like aligning to another’s truth and abandoning our own, hang around until we truly are prepared to renounce and let go of them.

  14. Today in my walking I couldn’t stop smiling, for the contentment of being here, so alive and so beautiful. I’ve noticed how much I’ve calibrated these amazing feeling depending of the situtation I was and that this is actually my natural way of being, that is not exclusive to me but accesible for all. So the next time I see someone serious I will remind that the same sparkle is within everyone equally, no matter how far away we are from that.

  15. There are so many people who are miserable and depressed in the world, to express our joy is a reflection that may need to see and remember we all can connect to this quality once again no matter what age we are.

  16. If I ever feel I have lost my ‘joie de vivre’ I only have to spend some time hanging out with young children to be reminded that I can’t actually lose my joy, I can only bury under all the seriousness and struggle life often presents us with. I simply love watching the joy that naturally bubbles out of these children as they grab everything that life is offering them as they play with it, create with it and make it fun.

    1. How lovely, yes children have that beautiful freshness and openness in how they approach life, they are so joyful in their wonder of nature and all that is going on around them. I have to wonder if we adults have created an unwritten rule for ourselves that no one is to shine or share their joy, because the seriousness is such a pervasive epidemic.

      1. Yes I too can feel the damaging power of that ‘unwritten rule’. And it may be unwritten, but it pervades so much of our adult lives, and as a result we deprive ourselves of the joy that is naturally ours, a joy which bubbles away within us just waiting for the opportunity to burst out and wrap us, and those around us, in its effervescent bubbles. Here’s to dismantling that life-strangling rule and to shining brightly and joyfully once again!

  17. When seriousness has entered it means we have chosen to identify ourselves with something we are not (hence the outside factor); thereby we are not victims of life or other people but we align to something that reduces the natural spark and lightness of our inner being, may it be to fit in, not stick out, avoid confrontation or jealousy, or being in sympathy with those who are ‘seriously’ in something that makes them feel joyless etc, but eventually we realize that it is our choice to be serious or not and hence we can choose reconnecting to the indwelling joyousness any time no matter what the circumstances.

    1. This is very true Alex. It has come to my awareness of late how much I walk through life with my hand on the ‘dimmer switch’ for exactly the reasons that you mention here.

    2. Thanks Alexander for your comment, I particularly noticed this line “or being in sympathy with those who are ‘seriously’ in something that makes them feel joyless”, I hadn’t quite looked at seriousness this way but it’s very true.

  18. We are definitely not naturally serious, I really agree with your comment that there’s so much inside us waiting to come out … we just need to start tapping into it and then the small drizzle of joy soon begins to become a bottomless well.

    1. Great differentiation! Taking life incredibly seriously in all the opportunities and lessons it offers is so important but that never means we need to lose our joy de vivre!

  19. I watched the adults around me when I was young be super serious and I didn’t really look forward to becoming an adult because of this. Once I was an adult I then chose a serious way of living as well and even more so when I became a parent. I see my sons watch me when I’m only being serious and hardened in that. Connecting more to my essence and innocence over the years has supported me to feel the joy, playfulness and lightness of being me.

  20. Annelies this is so true
    “living became something that I endured rather than enjoyed.”
    For most of us life is to be endured and got through as best we can, and I see many older people who are very sad at the end of their life that they actually did not enjoy it.

  21. As I was sitting in a café yesterday I was observing the people around me and noticed that so many seemed so serious, some looked decidedly unwell and others were simply buried in their mobile or laptop; ‘joie-de-vivre’ was definitely not in attendance in that moment in time. I then wondered if others would see me in the same serious light, or if the twinkle in my eyes when I looked at them would get them smiling too. Unfortunately no one looked up so I could smile at them, but that didn’t stop me from smiling; there is always something to smile about.

    1. There may be bright lights and music to excite us but it can never replace the joy from within. I was observing casino goers last night and no one looked like they were en-joying themselves instead it looked like the elusive carrot was being dangled and a desperation to grasp it. This leaves us driving forward instead of feeling within.

  22. Much to share with the world even if no one seems to have any interest in what we are willing to share. It is up to us that the ‘much more’ does not contribute to the limited and limiting way.

  23. What if we made a commitment to life, increase productivity, dedication to love and bucket loads of laughter and playfulness our way of being?

    1. Life would be absolutely overflowing with joy, we would be forever smiling and fueled by all the smiles and all the joy, I am very sure that our productivity would go through the roof. Now is one life that I am definitely signing up for!

  24. In this world becoming an adult means dropping the silliness and the playfulness and becoming 100% serious. We can all feel how wrong this is but we want to fit in and be accepted.

  25. I found that even when I realised that joie de vivre is my true nature and who I actually am I still have plenty of momentum for seriousness, in part because it gives me an individuality that joie de vivre doesn’t.

  26. “As a child I soon learned from others’ reactions when it was OK for me to smile and when it was OK to laugh” – I had to read this line a few times for it to really sink in – that the impact we can have on a child can shape their whole life and how much joy they feel on a daily basis – it’s time for us to take much more responsibility for the way we live and understand that we are actually impacting everyone non-stop.

    1. Yes but as parents it is as if we sign up to being a part of a brainwashing gang, knocking out the joy from our children to produce adults that conform to what society says it needs.

  27. It is so true when we have to endure life or put up with things it sucks all the playfulness and enjoyment of life right out of us.

    1. Annelies definitely has that twinkle in her eyes, I’ve noticed it too, it’s invites everything to know we are much more than we think we are, and to open up to the joy within. The twinkle says “Let’s play!”

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