• Future Legacies

Creating Joy in the Teen Years


Wendy W. Smith


The holiday season is full of people expressing and celebrating joy in different ways. Very young children experience joy during the holidays by eagerly awaiting the toys Santa will bring. Adults experience joy by being with friends and family, creating memories with their children, and of course, by giving and receiving gifts. So how do teens experience joy during the holidays or any other time of year?


I recently asked a teenager how he would define joy. He hesitated at first. Clearly, he hadn’t really considered this before. After some thought, he said, “Joy is being happy about something. Getting something or having something that you want to happen.” He wasn’t far off. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines joy as:



1) the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires, 2) a state of happiness or felicity, 3) a source or cause of delight.


Joy can come from things like a new gaming system, new outfit, or gifts under the tree. Joy comes from experiences, too. Teens can feel joy just from hanging out with their friends talking and laughing, or from achieving a goal, or going to a concert or ballgame.

Many teens think of joy as a one-way street with joy coming only from something that happens to them. But remember, joy can be something that happens on the inside, too. Teens can choose to have joy and to create joy for themselves and others. They can become a source of joy and happiness in their own lives and in the lives of others.


Take time to answer these questions for yourself:

  • What does joy mean to me?

  • What causes me to feel joy and happiness?

  • How can I be a source of happiness and joy in the new year?


Experiencing and creating joy can be difficult at times. Why?


One of the reasons is distraction. Discomfort can distract people from recognizing and experiencing the joyful aspects of their life. Discomfort can be things like:

  • The alarm clock not going off and being late for school again.

  • A relationship not working out.

  • Someone gossiping and talking about others behind their backs.

  • Not doing well on a test or in a specific class.


The key to happiness is choosing to recognize and experience joy even in the midst of distractions. Face it. Life is filled with discomfort. Those who have true joy do so because they make a decision to recognize, experience, and create joy in life despite the distractions and discomforts.

Joy isn’t just something that flows IN to someone’s life. Yes, joy can come from things or other people, yet it doesn’t last. Joy that flows OUT of someone is only limited by that person’s willingness to create and experience it. Make a plan on how you will see, feel, and create joy in your life moving forward. Answer these questions to help you:


  • Am I a joy-giving, joy-creating person?

  • Do I find reasons to be joyful, even in the midst of discomfort and distractions?

  • What can I do to create and bring joy to others in the coming year?


Imagine how happy your New Year could be if every person you know created joy every day.


Wishing you a holiday and New Year filled with joy!


Wendy