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News > School Newsletter > From our Head of House - Mornane

From our Head of House - Mornane

In this Year of Felicity, Mrs Sonia Prees, our Head of Mornane House, explores the difference between joy and happiness, and the different kinds of joy we feel through connection.

2021 has been the Year of Felicity at Loreto Normanhurst. When looking back on the year that has been, with all of its uncertainty and trials, I reflected on whether it was possible to experience Felicity through such difficult times. Did the Loreto community live out this value, even in the midst of such a challenging year?

Felicity is defined as a state of intense happiness or the quality of joy. We seem to be hardwired to base our happiness on our circumstances. We are happiest when things are going well for us and we are saddest when things are not going so well. I have been challenged by the notion that joy is actually not the same as happiness.

Joy has a mysterious capacity to be felt alongside sorrow and even in the midst of suffering. This is because joy is what we feel deep in our bones when we feel connected to others and to what is genuinely good, beautiful and meaningful. Joy is still possible, even in times of adversity whereas happiness is generally the result of evaluating our circumstances and being satisfied with our lives. Joy does not depend on good circumstances. (Gorrell, 2020)

“Joy seems to me a step beyond happiness - Happiness is a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes, if you are lucky. Joy is a light that fills you with faith and hope and love”.

Adela Rogers St Johns

Nel Noddings, Stanford professor and author of the 2013 book Caring, describes joy as a feeling that “accompanies a realisation of our relatedness.” What Noddings meant by relatedness was the special feeling we get from caring about other people or ideas and our connectedness with one another. This has surely been the key to living out the value of Felicity at Loreto Normanhurst this year. Despite 2021 having delivered its fair share of difficulties, the students and staff at Loreto can look to the caring and connected community we share and find more than a few snippets of joy this year.

Dr Angela Gorrell, the Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Baylor University, is a scholar who has investigated the role of joy in day to day life. She believes that joy is an incredibly powerful companion during times of trial. In her book, The Gravity of Joy, Dr Gorrell identified multiple kinds of joy that can be expressed, even though we are living through troubled times, when our circumstances are not necessarily good.

1. Retrospective Joy comes from vividly recalling a previous experience of unspeakable joy. Mornane House can recall such moments as the 2021 Music Festival, winning best Choir and Conductor, winning the Athletics Carnival Spirit Cup, the Year 12 Mornane House Farewell and being awarded House Champions for 2021 as instances of Felicity or unspeakable joy. 

2. Restorative Joy is the feeling that follows things which were once broken, being repaired. This kind of joy can be found in restoring relationships and human connection. Returning to face to face learning this term saw this restoration of friendships and human connection after a prolonged period of lockdown.

3. Futuristic Joy comes from rejoicing that we will again glimpse meaning, beauty or goodness sometime in the future. The anticipation of the summer holiday break and the true meaning of Christmas being the source of hope and joy for all. A time to remember the birth of a Saviour - Jesus Christ - and time spent with family and friends in caring connectedness.

In the midst of a year in which it is not difficult to stumble onto suffering, the good news is that we can also stumble onto joy. Joy can always find you.

Mrs Sonia Prees

Head of Mornane House

 

Gorrell, Angela., 2020. “Finding joy in 2020? It’s not such an absurd idea, really.”

Noddings, Nel., 2013. “Caring - A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education.” Second Edition.

 

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