Finding Joy In Life
By Jon Terrell, M. A.


“You took my joy, I want it back,
You took my joy, I want it back,
I’m gonna go to west Memphis and look for my joy,
Maybe in west Memphis I’ll find my joy…”
Lucinda Williams, Joy lyrics

People often come to our emotional healing retreats because they’ve lost their joy and enthusiasm for living. They may be depressed, or bored or just stuck and don’t know how to get out of it. A relationship may have failed or is failing and they don’t know what to do.

Life just isn’t working anymore.

As a retreat leader and therapist, I get to see people go through their stuck places and come out the other side.

Finding Joy inside Our Pain

I’m always amazed to see, each time, that joy is hidden inside of feelings we want to avoid. We search out there for treasures, only to find that what we seek is hidden inside, where we really don’t want to look.

Joy, of course, doesn’t live at any specific external location, or in another person. If we get caught in thinking it does, we are in trouble and need to get help. When we get caught up in “I can’t live without you” we’ve gotten so far outside of ourselves that we need help getting back and finding joy again inside ourselves.

We have our own source for life and love…it's within us.

Joy resides inside of us. But it’s often been buried, and we have lost our access to it.

So many of us are like Lucinda Williams in her song…looking here and there, out there, to find joy again. Maybe if I go there, or do this or that, “I’ll find my joy.”

Now that can work, temporarily. We find temporary refuge in others, in music, at the movies, at certain locations. We can escape our pain into substances, such as sweets, alcohol and other drugs. They are addictive if we go to them to feel better because we are caught up in pain.

We can rise above our pain, too, rising into busyness, frantic activity which sometimes can mimic joy. But it’s a temporary escape, because deep down there is work to do. We can rise above it only for awhile.

I’ve seen people try to meditate their way out of feelings of emptiness and worthlessness, only to find they’ve been avoiding life. And I’ve worked with creative individuals who have temporarily escaped their uncomfortable feelings through creative efforts.

But sooner or later pain catches up to all of us. For many, antidepressants, exercise, and forms of distractions (TV, internet, etc.) don’t do the job anymore. We've got to find a better way.

Finding Joy Again

We all long for connection, for joy and love. We long to live our lives fully. We are thirsty for healing, for awakening, for peace.

At some point we may get tired of running around, searching for joy, looking in “west Memphis” as in Lucinda’s song, and all the other places we go.

We are ready to do the real work of healing and awakening. To roll up our sleeves, and instead of escaping, go right into the painful feelings from the past that are stored within our bodies.

There are many paths that can help…and with the right guides, the journey is not overwhelming.

For some psychotherapy can be a great aid, for others more body-oriented work can help. Support groups benefit many. Meditation can be helpful, especially if it’s not used to escape.

Check out our Grief and Loss and Breaking Free Of The Old Story retreats.

Look at some of the links below for some ideas of what may help you.

Take the next step of finding joy.


Jon Terrell offers psychotherapy for individuals and couples at his office in Northampton, Massachusetts, in downtown Manhattan, and via Skype. For more information or if you have a question, contact him using the form below.

Jon Terrell, M.A., L.M.T.
Fitzwilly's Building
25 Main Street, Suite #342
Northampton, Massachusetts 01060

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