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Balancing Joy, Compassion and Idealism

Posted by Stephen Crilly on 31 March, 2011 at 11:09

The virtue of Joy (or Joyfulness) encompasses those things that we do for entertainment and pleasure. For some, it might be a devotion to sports. For others, it could be socializing, engaging in some activity of interest, or even shopping. The virtue of Joy also includes bringing Joy to others.

The virtues of Compassion and Idealism include those things that we do to assist others in need. Living a virtue-balanced life requires a balance among these virtues. A virtue-balanced life is where true happiness is found and where one can find the doorway to enlightenment.

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Reply Roger Levy
11:57 on 31 March, 2011 
Joy and joyfulness can encompass much more than what we do for fun or pleasure. For many, the expression of gratidute towards God or Creator has a direct correlation with the experience of joy at being alive.
Reply Stephen Crilly
12:25 on 31 March, 2011 
Great observation, Roger. Spirituality can bring Joy, and Compassion is an important part of Spirituality. Perhaps showing Compassion and Forgiveness is one way of expressing Gratitude toward God.
Reply Stephen Crilly
13:50 on 31 March, 2011 
I recently had an email exchange with someone in response to the "Joy, Compassion and Idealism" blog. Although it is a very simple example, it shows how interrelated the 44 Virtues can be. A similar "virtues analysis" can be applied to larger, more complex problems.

The following is the question and the response. The name of the third party [Person A] is intentionally omitted.

Q: Hmmm, ok, here's an out-of-whack scenario [Person A] brought up the other day. She is in a lot of labs with grad students. One of the students is in vet school and discusses many of the down sides of vet school (how expensive it is, how you will never make enough to pay it off, how most people in the field are supercilious...). Well, [Person A] has a friend who is starting to get into vet school, and [Person A] thought she should let her know all the things the grad student was saying. [Person A's] intentions are good, but is she right to start negating her friend's choice of vet school? Where is the balance?

SC: I believe it is balance among Honesty, Tactfulness and other Virtues. It is appropriate for [Person A] to be Honest on what she has heard. It is then up to either or both to investigate the truth, i.e., applying the Virtue of Learning. The Responsibility is really on [Person A's] friend to further explore for the truth. Person A had a degree of Responsibility to pass along what she heard. I am sure that some practicing veterinarians would be happy to talk with someone considering the field.

There is also the issue of Optimism. It could be that the individual who is making the negative remarks may have a generally pessimistic outlook on life. The Ideal is to look at as many facts as possible and be Mindful of everything that could affect a decision. Even if it is the truth that there are negative aspects to the field, [Person A's] friend could still decide to be a force of change, i.e., showing Courage, Determination and Idealism to improve it. The idea in applying the Virtues is that you arrive at a higher truth, make better decisions, are more helpful to others (if Virtues are understood), and ultimately, an overall, greater Ideal is reached.
Reply Stephen Crilly
12:46 on 1 April, 2011 
This article by Conor Grennan in The Huffington Post (3/31/2011) shows how volunteering, even briefly, is a way to change the world (and experience true Joy).
Reply Jim Downs
15:13 on 27 December, 2012 

Good points. Joy is the highest of the gratitude qualities. Pleasure, satisfaction, and the like can be selfish or selfless. Since Jesus was always focused on doing the Father's will, which is the greatest joy, it follows he was in a state of spiritual joy even while suffering the physical pain of the cross.

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