In honor of my earlier post, What's Your Theme Song, I thought our Thoughts for Thursday post should be a song rather than a quote. Yesterday a friend of mine, knowing how much I love the song “Brave” right now, sent me a link to this amazing video created by the patients and staff at University of Minnesota’s Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Do me a favor- stop reading and watch the video. It is truly a must see. You won't regret it. (Click on the picture below for the video.)
Pretty incredible, right?
There are so many things you could say about what makes this video moving, but what stands out to me is how truly BRAVE those children, nurses, and doctors are. We are never more courageous than when we choose to have hope and joy in the midst of pain and fear.
Joy and happiness are two different things, and I think we often confuse the two. Happiness is temporary, momentary, fleeting. It is like hunger- it’s going to come and go. I can be happy when I buy a new pair of pants, but by the time I get home I can be completely angry about something. But joy… joy is deeper. It is more foundational. Joy has to do with our spirit. Happiness has to do with our circumstances. Joy has to do with how we view the world and ourselves.
Joy is an interesting emotion. Most would say they want to experience joy; they want to feel it. But in truth, I think letting ourselves really experience joy and hope is actually a very scary prospect. What if? What if it doesn’t work out? What if it is taken away from me? What if it doesn’t happen? What if she don’t get better? What if… Joy leaves us feeling exposed, and whenever we feel exposed, our instinct is to protect. We “protect” ourselves from the uncertainty of joy by throwing it away with worst case scenarios and cynicism. We give it away before it can be taken away. We think we’re protecting ourselves, but really we are depriving ourselves.
But what if you let yourself have hope? What if you let yourself get excited about that thing on the horizon? What if you danced in the midst of your fear and anxiety? We are our bravest when we give ourselves permission to have hope and joy when all signs in our life point in a different direction. We're not talking about a “smile and never let ’em see you sweat” philosophy. That is denial. That is self-protection run amuck. That is dangerous. We're talking about acknowledging your fear and your pain- not denying it- and giving yourself permission to feel joy. We're talking about letting yourself exhale.
What we see in the video is that in the midst of real fear and pain and uncertainty, those patients gave themselves permission to dance, to laugh, and to be silly. That is courageous. And what we can readily assume is that when the camera stopped rolling those same patients gave themselves permission to cry and rage and pound their fists when they needed to. That is brave. It's the type of brave that takes your breath away.
Whenever you allow yourself to have hope when you know the possible reality, you are being brave. Whenever you allow yourself to feel joy when your instinct is to throw it away out of protection, you are being courageous.
Are you brave enough to hope? Are you courageous enough to feel joy?