Self Portrait – I made no attempt to color in the lines.

One of my Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) exercises for this week is to write about joy. I gave the therapist a look that suggested I was unimpressed but she convinced me that I had to do it. My personality is such that I live and dine with negatives. They get me out of bed in the morning and help me live my life. In an effort to finish my assignment, here goes.

To start of, this is what Webster defines as the full definition of joy

  1. :  the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires :  delight

  2. :  a state of happiness or felicity :  bliss

  3. :  a source or cause of delight

This was a rather interesting entry to read. Now that I am on my journey, I realize that this is an emotion I have not really felt since I was a child. I see how saying this may be a problem but I am okay with this. In retrospect I have been in many situations where I should feel Joy but it just never happened. Instead I do not really feel anything. I realize and appreciate the gravity and significance of the situations I am in but there are usually no emotional feelings attached to it.

Let me bring up a past experience to illustrate. On the day of graduation from Engineering school, I was present. Leading up to the event there was a good amount of preparation and based on how my peers reacted it seemed as if this was a joyous occasion. We got gowns and my peers were planning family dinners and after parties. I recognized that this was all happening around me, but I did not understand why it was necessary to celebrate a positive live event. After all we do not celebrate when someone commits suicide or is battered by a spouse. To me each of these events both positive and negative should hold equal weight. Surveying myself the range of my general emotions mostly fall on the negative side of the spectrum. I appreciate and recognize positive emotions in other people but they are foreign to me.

Due to this predisposition it seems as if feeling positive feelings would be something I would have to learn. But does the lack thereof hinder my ability to function? Over the last 3 weeks of CBT I have noticed that I have been less depressed than usual because I have been paying attention to my emotional responses. It has not made it such that I now have more positive emotions because they might not exist but I have been blank which has not happened in a long time. Might it now be possible to fill this blankness with joy?

I stumbled upon this video about a guy who had to learn most of his social skills because he did not develop them naturally. It is quite interesting.