Happiness Versus Joy
by Byron Pulsifer, © 2018
For some, both of these are the same. For others, each are different in some aspects but both gives one an element of being contented with life.
For even others, there is no contentment without first having joy. So, who is right or are all definitions equally right depending on the person?
It was Sandra L. Brown who said, “Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, where you are, why you are, and who you are not with. When you need nothing more than your truth and the love of a good God to bring peace, then you have settled into the abiding joy that is not rocked by relationships. It’s not rocked by anything.”
Satisfaction Comes Externally
First of all, let’s look at where happiness has its origins. For most people, that is, a sample of people one may meet throughout the day, their definition may vary significantly. For some, being of good spirit is no more than a state of mind that basically says that one creates a state of euphoria through thought processes regardless of what is happening or occurring.
For others, merriment is attained when that person is able to do what they want to do when they want to do it. This definition, similar to the thought expressed previously, focuses on self and not anyone else.
For others, the buoyancy in life is a by-product of the opportunities that allow them to come to the assistance of someone in need. This could be expressed in a volunteer situation, or it could simply be the opportunity to offer financial support to a worthy cause.
Whatever the view, each can be right depending on whom you talk to but one common element is present in each. That common element is that happiness is conveyed as an inner satisfaction with whatever one thinks. Therefore, if you think you are cheer filled, you are; if you are not satisfied with life, you are not. In both of these senses, no matter the feeling it is one of personal perception.
Do Acquisitions Or Possessions Make A Joy Filled Person?
Let’s also explore the ingredients of happiness but expressed in terms of what one can buy. This is to suggest, that in this definition, it is the amount of goods or products that define when feelings of contentment are attained. However, it is also true that if one’s definition is dependent upon the acquisitions of things, it is imperative to understand that these possessions will only offer very short lived satisfaction. It is not that things mean one is happier for it also seems that the more one accumulates the more one wants.
A big house leads to an even bigger house; a fancy car leads either to an even more fancier car, or to another vehicle as well; or what was once seen as a great vacation must be replaced with an even more exotic vacation or even the acquisition of a summer or vacation home, or many summer or vacation homes.
In the course of my lifetime, I’ve never met a wealthy person who was consistently happy. As well, it also seemed that the more money these people had, the more they wanted. Further, it did not mean that they did not have issues or hurts or pains or disappointments for in the final analysis, money nor acquisitions ever lead to true happiness.
Is Joy Different Any Different?
Is there a difference between happiness and joy? For some, both words mean the same. For others, each are different in some aspects but both gives one an element of being contented with life. For even others, there is no attainment of being untroubled without first having joy. So, who is right or are all definitions equally right depending on the person? In my view, joy must come before happiness can be achieved.
Joy Leads To Happiness
Now, let’s turn to the aspect of joy that was first mentioned. In the statement by Brown, joy came from making peace with who you are. This means that you need to be you. You are not on this earth to be crafted like someone else or to be as someone else wants to make you. I’m sure you are all familiar with stories of those parents who pushed their son or daughter to take on a career or a style of life that they desired.
It was either the life of a successful sports figure, pianist, gymnast, model, lawyer or even to follow along in the family business. In the final analysis, these stories usually end the same way. The person who was subject to these pressures to be something they did not desire ended in a miserable life, or ended where total escape from family pressures took them along totally different pathways often estranged from their immediate family.
The joy of being who God intended you to be is the inner peace that results. Each person is a unique creation God and each person who is rooted in the truth and the love of God has the joy that can never be acquired by any external means no matter how seemingly glorious at the time.
Each person is designed by God to have a purpose. It is not the purpose of this unique being to be the same as anyone else nor to succumb to the desires of what one is or should be.
Instead, it is the design that each person is designated for a greater purpose and that purpose is one that is bound in love. It is love that first is reflected inwardly – the inward reflection and substance of the love extended through Christ. Love inwardly flows outwardly when it is for the purpose of satisfying that which one has been purposed to be and do.
Nothing More Is Needed
The indwelling of an inner peace sees no bounds or impediments. It is never overcome by jealousy or selfishness or hatred. It is a love that expresses itself in true joy and outward contentment through behavior and speech.
An inspirational quote said by Francis Bacon: “Money is like manure, of very little use except it be spread.” It is no different than joy. Joy is of little use unless it is spread out and shared with others. This kind of joy sees no limitations as would the purchase of a fancy house unless, of course, that fancy house was consistently shared with others who had no home.
And, let us rethink a famous quote from Mark Twain: “Every person is a book, each year a chapter.” Each day, each week, each month, and each year is an opportunity to share joy – to share love – to help others move towards that ultimate sense of well-being which is a joy and happiness that is not of this world.
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