Whenever you search the internet for articles about Joy, more than likely, it will bring up everything they want you to know about “happiness.” But a distinct difference exists between the two, and that involves the source that inspires such an emotional feeling.

For one thing, happiness is rooted in circumstances. It also depends on external factors to exist. In other words, happiness is not a choice a person makes, it’s what comes to you. It is possible to be happy all by yourself. On the other hand, Joy is not swayed by circumstances. It is an internal attitude of the heart, mind, and spirit. Furthermore, Joy is a choice we make that taps into a reservoir of potential within us.

On top of this, happiness is not present in hard times and difficulties. It is hard to buy happiness when things are not going your way. Therefore, happiness and sorrow cannot coexist. You are either happy or unhappy. But Joy never leaves. Even in times of trials and dire circumstances, Joy brings peace and contentment to our spirits. Therefore, Joy and sorrow can coexist. That’s because Joy involves a connection. It starts with linking to other people, but it can also be with pets, precious heirlooms, creation, creativity. Happiness comes and goes, but Joy is always present.

Another thing, happiness is built upon sand, so to speak. It can be around for weeks, but in one swift moment, it is gone. Happiness feeds the mind while Joy feeds the soul. Not only that, but happiness is often dependent on temporary circumstances that can change in a minute, while Joy is anchored in something that is always there, forever the same, and immovable. Happiness requires having what it needs immediately, but Joy exists where there are faith and hope. Happiness most often arrives when something is given. On the other hand, Joy is experienced when being able to give.

Lifestyle Mentor and Meditation teacher Rachel Fearnley shares that Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience, but are very different. Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are, and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts, and events.

Fearnley tells us that through her personal experience and lifelong studies, she came to realize this profound difference between Joy and happiness. Aiming for Joy is more beneficial, as it is less transitory than happiness and is not tied to external circumstances. Some people have lost touch with that feeling, not knowing how to cultivate Joy anymore, so they resort to quick fixes like alcohol, drugs and addictive foods, or find fleeting moments of happiness from other places without truly experiencing it and cultivating it for themselves.

So, she recommends that a person who wants to experience and hold on to Joy can start by quieting their minds with meditation. Prayer is said to be one of the most calming practice to bring Joy to the heart and soul. Another thing is to shut many of the doors to what other people are complaining about, especially on social media. If you really want to hear some good news, read the Bible. It is like a fountain that never stops flowing with the living water of blessed assurance. Also, keep track of the things that refresh your Joy. Think of it as a garden that you cultivate with gratitude so that these things grow and help build strength, such as Church ministries, Bible Studies, helping the underprivileged, worshipping with fellow believers, and being a blessing to your extended family.

The Bible is a source of encouragement and helps maintain one’s Joy. As King David said with emotion: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of Joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”[1] Then King Solomon followed with these words: “A Joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.[2] And the prophet Isaiah issued this promise from the Lord: “For you will go out in Joy and be led forth in peace.[3]

And our Lord and Savior quieted the troubled spirits of His disciples who learned of His leaving to return to the Father in heaven by telling them: Although you have sorrow now, I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your Joy from you.[4] The Apostle Peter, who was there to hear those words stated to his fellow believers: Even though you don’t see Him, yet you love Him. And though you don’t now see Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with Joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.[5] And to this, the Apostle Paul added: Let your Joy be in the Lord always; and again, I say, Rejoice.[6]

That’s why we can join in the jubilation of Mary, the mother of our Lord, after the angel visited her and told her of the coming event because she had been chosen to bring the Messiah into the world so that the Son of God could become the Son of Man. Mary exclaimed, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! [7] So, just like Mary, by having this Prince of Peace in our hearts as our Lord and Savior, we too can rejoice in our unchangeable source of everlasting Joy! His name is Jesus. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Psalm 16:11

[2] Proverbs 17:22

[3] Isaiah 55:12

[4] John 16:22

[5] 1 Peter 1:8

[6] Philippians 4:4

[7] Luke 1:46-47

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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