The Jason Wright Show

The Jason Wright Show

Vitruvian Notes-Finding Joy "The Happy Han Man"

March 08, 2023

It was 2003 and I was dying. No. I mean it. I was risking death. I had been hiking through the foothills of the Himalayas on my first ever mission trip. Over the course of three days I had weaved through leech infested goat trails, dehydrated and lost 15 lbs.

The two guys I was hiking with were ahead of me. The three of us were making our way to a small hillside farm. My vision was blurry. My mind was hazy. My tongue was sticky and fat.

“One more more step..don’t look over the more step.” This is what I said to myself for hours. Then I would slide down the side of the mountain trying desperately not to collapse under the weight of the 50 lb pack I was carrying. This was incredibly difficult given the falling warm rain and the slick mud that guided my steps.

We made it to the little farm. It was a one room shack with a covered porch. One small pen was outside with a pig in it. I threw up in the pig pen, shed my pack and fell backwards.

Lying on the cool dirt floor of the back porch was bliss. My friends and I were greeted by a Chinese National wearing only a pair of pants that had been cut into culottes. Well, that and a big smile. Peeking out of one of my friend’s pockets was a picture. The man immediately became animated and started pointing at the picture.

It was a picture of him. We had found the ‘Happy Han Man.’ This is how the missionaries that had gone before us described him. This was his little farm. He was known to help those who passed by. They had been here before and took the picture and gave it to us to look for him should we find ourselves in need of assistance.

The entire time we were with him he never lost that wide smile. This was a man not just happy but full of joy. He had little to no material belongings. He had no running water. He had no electricity, but he exuded joy. How could this be?

I think it’s because joy is deeper than anything material gifts can provide us. Joy is something that begins inside and is shown outwardly. I think when one finds joy they have found one of life’s greatest treasures for sure.

Joy is a unique emotion, different from happiness. It can be described as an intense feeling of pleasure or satisfaction that surpasses the level of joy experienced by temporary happiness. As C.S Lewis famously said, “Joy is the serious business of Heaven”- meaning it stands for something much deeper and more meaningful than mere contentment or satisfaction. Joy is something that goes beyond the fleeting happiness we feel when we achieve something or experience an exciting moment. 

Joy is more important than temporary happiness because it provides a sense of purpose and connection to our innermost selves. It helps us recognize our true power and potential, which can lead to profound personal growth. Joy also helps us discover meaning in life, encourages us to pursue bigger goals, and motivates us to take necessary steps in order to achieve them. 

Joy is something that we can cultivate within ourselves through daily practices such as meditation, journaling, creative activities and more. By focusing on joy as a core emotion rather than temporary happiness, we can truly unlock our potential for growth and fulfillment.

Scientific studies have also explored the power of joy and its potential to increase overall well-being. Studies suggest that joy can improve physical health, strengthen relationships, increase productivity at work and even help people bounce back from adversity more easily. 

Joy has been found to be associated with better mental health outcomes such as fewer symptoms of depression and improved resilience. Joy can even contribute to better physical health, with findings indicating that it can improve immune system functioning and reduce stress levels.

Ultimately, joy is an emotion we should work to cultivate in our lives. Its power goes beyond the temporary happiness experienced when something exciting happens or you achieve a goal; instead, it is a lasting feeling of connectedness, purpose and growth. Joy can lead to improved mental and physical health, greater personal resilience and increased productivity. As Viktor Frankl said, “Live life in the full light of joy” – Joy should be a primary focus when striving for true fulfillment.

I’m glad to have met the ‘Happy Han Man.’ To most of the world he has nothing. To me he has the greatest treasure of all-joy.

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