The Presidential Campaign: A Study in Joy

The Presidential Campaign: A Study in Joy February 1, 2016


Remember when Jeb Bush was deciding whether to run for president and said he only wanted to run joyfully?

Poor Jeb. He can’t be having much fun right now.

More recently, I heard a couple of commentators speculating on who is campaigning with the most joy. They concluded it was Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, who both have run unexpectedly well, given the low expectations when they started.

So which comes first – the joy or the success?

Could this presidential campaign become a spiritual study in what constitutes joy?


rope swing into lake
photo by Blake Wheeler



Time magazine, ruminating more than a year ago on Jeb’s desire for joy, called it “that most delightful and fleeting of human emotions.”

Nope, that’s happiness.

Happiness is the emotion that comes from achievements or laughter or delightful surprises. Happiness is getting a raise or eating a great meal or watching your child ride a bike for the first time. It comes to pass.

Joy, on the other hand, is a deep and abiding outlook on life. It can exist regardless of circumstances.

Joy is an inner calm, knowing ultimately all is well.

Joy is a sense of self-worth, regardless of outer achievements.

Some people seek this state of joy with mindfulness practices. Others seem to be born with it. Still others, I believe, go through life suspecting something is missing within them.

An absence of joy might be an accurate diagnosis for our society right now. Not just the body politic, which is said to be angry and rejecting of the status quo, but an individual sense of loss, of disappointment with life overall, the restless idea that promises have been broken.

How would it be possible – or is it – to instill a sense of joy in an entire culture?



Most people aren’t going to meditate. Many are too busy worrying about what’s wrong in their lives to contemplate the possibilities of joy. Some would say I’m crazy to suggest joy is even possible in tough times.

But don’t you believe it is?

I suspect we all volunteered for this human experience intending to live in joy. I can imagine our souls on the Other Side, preparing to come to earth and saying essentially what Jeb said: I only want to do it joyfully.

We brought the joy with us. It’s still here somewhere, deep within, perhaps neglected or unfelt for many years.

May I suggest we call it forth? Literally, take a minute and ask your inner wisdom or higher self to bring forth joy today. Set an intention to live in joy no matter what happens.

That doesn’t mean you’ll laugh inappropriately at any difficulties that arise. It means you will face them knowing there’s a bigger picture, knowing there is an order to the universe you cannot see, and no experience is ever wasted in your soul’s journey.

You will set about living with a sense you cannot fail, not overall, not in the long run.

And you will know that whatever happens is somehow for your highest good.

Try that, and see whether you meet with unexpected success as well.



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