If you randomly asked most people what the basic necessities were in life you’d probably get answers like food, water, and shelter. You also might get a few answers for other things like love and companionship.
All of those answers are right. But there are two more things we need in life that most people don’t think about much, and certainly don’t put into words.
But these two things are just as important as food and water. We need them in order to function.
Do you know what they are?
Joy and Shalom (Quiet)
And no, they aren’t opposites. They actually go together.
Sorta like high tide and low tide. Like the sun and the moon, like a musical masterpiece with heightened beats and sweet slow pauses.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Before really explaining how they go together, let me make sure you understand what they really are.
What is Joy?
Joy is not what you think it is. You probably experienced joy during really happy times and thought they were one and the same. You probably also experienced joy before when you were in the middle of a crisis too… you just didn’t realize it.
Joy is what happens in your brain when someone is glad to be with you.
Joy is that “sparkle in your eye” that moment when your face lights up and softens in response to someone else’s smile!
You can’t control it, you can’t force it, you can’t arrange for it to happen. Joy is a neurological response to someone else being glad to be with you.
Joy is also the neurological response that someone else has when you are glad to be with them! Dopamine is naturally and BEST produced this way!
Joy itself is not complicated, but many people struggle with really getting what it means. They have confused it with “happiness” for so long, that it baffles them to explain it in this way. Just in case you’re one of those people, let me say it again; Joy is the fruit of relationship when someone is glad to be with you. It’s produced, it’s grown, it’s the “then” in a conditional equation.
I feel joy in my BRAIN when my dog greets me at the door.
I feel joy in my brain when a child smiles at me in the grocery store. (kids are natural joy seekers and builders!)
I feel joy in my brain when I look into the eyes of my spouse, my parents, and my children.
I feel joy in my brain when my best friend invites me to hang out.
I feel joy in my brain when I spend time talking to God.
I feel joy when I do fun things with my family and friends.
I feel joy when times are tough and my family and/or friends come sit with me.
Joy is not conditional on circumstance. But it is conditional on relationship. It is not something I can provide for myself. I need someone to be glad to be with me in order to feel joy.
The really good news is, Jesus is always glad to be with me. So even when I’m alone, I can connect with Him and my brain will get “fed” with the joy it needs and craves.
What is Shalom (quiet)?
Shalom is quiet.
Quiet is exactly what you think it is, you probably just weren’t aware of how detrimental the lack of quiet is to your physical and emotional health!
Shalom (Quiet) is the calm state our body craves after it experiences moments of high energy joy and negative emotional states.
We can’t stay “up” forever. Our bodies just weren’t designed to always be releasing dopamine. (or cortisol from stress!)
When our brain gets the chance to rest and experience shalom (quiet) it releases serotonin. Serotonin production is a physical need. It is believed that serotonin has an impact on everything from mood stability to behavior regulation, digestive issues, appetite, the ability to sleep, as well as sexual desire and function.
Quiet is an often undervalued part of our day.
Shalom (quiet) can be as simple as the glance away from a loved one after a period of joyful eye contact.
Shalom (quiet) can be taking a moment to close your eyes and breathe deeply for 10 seconds.
Shalom (quiet) can be just lying in your bed for a few minutes after the alarm goes off before you grab your phone or start getting ready.
Shalom (quiet) can be that feeling you experience when you lean back against your chair at work and reflect on a good memory for just a minute.
Shalom (quiet) can be the stillness of a break in conversation with your friend on a long car trip.
Shalom (quiet) is when your heart rate slows down and your breathing becomes deeper. It’s when your “thoughts” stop racing and focus on either a good memory or even just the sound of your own rhythmic breathing.
Shalom (quiet) is that moment when you just know everything is going to be alright because you know that God is with you and He’s got you in the palm of His hand.
Shalom literally means “everything is just right”.
Two Peas in a Pod
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? Job 12: 7-9
God created the earth and everything in it. In nature, I find a teacher.
When I look at the oceans; the rhythms of the waves, I see a creator that gives us glimpses of His plan for us everywhere we look.
We are designed to be in rhythm with Him. Rhythms of joy and shalom (quiet).
Look with me for a moment at the ocean. Its optimal high tide and low tide are perfect. But when the storm rages and high tide stays up too long and is pushed further and further up…. It damages the shore and everything in its path. Without the chance to settle down and “quiet” with a low tide, destruction is inevitable.
Let’s also consider what happens during times of drought, when the earth isn’t working as designed. The “low” becomes so low that everything becomes dried up, withers and even dies.
We too experience destruction when we stay “up/on” too long. We too wither up and become parched and depressed when we are in a “joy drought”.
We need both.
For every wave crest there is a trough.
For every moment of joy, shalom (quiet) is meant to follow.
God can provide both of our needs for us. But He desires more for us than just joy and quiet with Him. Otherwise, He never would have created Eve. He designed us to provide this rhythm for each other.
I think that most people I meet are excited about the chance to build more joy in their lives. It doesn’t take much of a “sales pitch” to convince people to build joy and share joy.
Remember, just like we need food and water. We need joy and shalom (quiet).
Did you know you can survive 21 days without food, but only 3 days without water? Searching for food on a deserted island isn’t going to work if you don’t find water first.
Seeking only joy without the natural rhythm of shalom (quiet) isn’t going to get you very far either.
If you’d like some help learning how to apply the rhythms of joy and quiet into your daily life, consider life coaching! I’d love to partner with you and coach you through making these two needs in your life a priority! Contact me at www.theopenbench.com for more information.