THE BLOG
01/06/2015 02:12 pm ET Updated Mar 08, 2015

Where Joy Really Comes From

Cathy Cassani Adams

I picked up my daughter from Kindergarten today and she said, "I just feel so like me today... I love feeling like me."

As we walked to the car, she held my hand, skipped and hummed.

Today she wore hand-me-down clothes from her sisters, some barrettes she found under her bed and some bright blue shoes.

We didn't have any planned outings or a fun lunch date.

There were no special stars on her papers, no birthday invitation in her folder and she didn't have a special job today.

Nothing out of the ordinary was happening around her. In this moment, she just felt good in her skin, she felt good being herself.

And this is the joy we forget about.

We become so focused on the doing and we become so focused on making sure everybody knows about our doing.

We stay stuck in the past or focus all our energy on something in the future.

We become obsessed with the outward -- the appearance, clothes, hair, car, house.

It's one thing to choose what feels good, but when the only intention is to enhance other people's perception, we are tapping into an area that can't fulfill and where we really have no control.

The only thing we can control is the inner feeling, the way we like ourselves.

Money can't buy good feelings, and other people's feelings about us may flatter, but praise and popularity are insatiable and a short-lasting high.

The only true question is this: How do I feel about being me?

Do I know myself? Can I feel what I am? Can I notice what I've been given? Do I offer myself the love that I know all people deserve?

At one time we all knew the inner joy. Before people told us to be different, before we compared or competed or decided that others had it better.

Maybe it was felt in Kindergarten, or maybe, hopefully, this inner joy is still felt in glimpses and fleeting moments or even better, a lot of the time.

Because this is the truth about joy: It doesn't come from things, stuff or constant productivity. It just comes from a quiet and deep inner acceptance and appreciation; it comes from a fullness of knowing that who you are is good.

So today, I took my daughter's picture. I will frame it and put it on her dresser, just so she remembers how joy feels.

Or maybe I took the picture for me.

So I can remember where joy really comes from.

Cathy is the author of Living What You Want Your Kids to Learn: The Power of Self-Aware Parenting. Follow Cathy on Facebook and Twitter.