The difference between happiness and joy


Everyone wants to be happy. That is a given. Ask people what it means to be happy and you will likely get a different answer from each one. Depending upon what we already have, perceived needs and our area of interest, we will give an answer based on who we are at the moment. Since every life is fluid, the definition of ‘happy’ is ever changing.

The feeling or emotion we call ‘being happy’ is a fleeting emotion. No one can be happy all the time. I know this because people die and this makes us very sad. We get hurt or become ill and there is nothing to be happy about in those situations. Even if you love your job, there are days when you just want it to be over so you can go home, kick off your shoes and collaspe on the sofa.

You may love your spouse and your children, live in a comfortable home and lack nothing, but you still will not be happy all day long every day of the year. Happiness is an emotion. Emotions change constantly. Joy is a state of being.

My children and grandchildren bring me joy. I enjoy gardening, making things with my own hands, writing, living in the mountains and going to church with my fellow Christians. I enjoy watching the deer graze in my front yard and knowing that a black bear cub makes his rounds through the edge of my property where he robs the wild honey bees every summer.

There is much joy in my life. I am content most days to do the things I normally do. I don’t live in a fancy house or drive the newest vehicle. I don’t have everything I want or many things that would make my life easier. I do have joy in my life.

Learning that a friend has overcome an illness and is back at work makes me happy. Seeing my children and grandchildren makes me happy. Winning the lottery would probably make me happy. Being happy comes and goes. God never promised us we would always be happy once we became Christians. He did say we would know peace and joy.

No matter what happens in our own lives or what happens in the world, we can live in peace and joy. The kind of peace that comes from knowing there is nothing too big for God to handle is the ultimate peace. It is a lasting peace. We can have a lasting peace and lasting joy in our lives by knowing that God is in control of everything.

We won’t be happy every minute of every day. There is too much life in living for us to always be happy. We have to earn money to pay bills and buy food. We have obligations that come even when we don’t have the energy to deal with them. We will have our hearts broken by people we thought we could trust and believe in. We will experience great sadness when those we love die. No, we just can’t be happy all the time. But, we can know joy every day.

Does the beauty of a sunrise or sunset bring you joy? Do you know joy when a cool breeze touches your face on a hot summer day? Can you feel the joy on a late summer night when the heat begins to wane and the crickets sing? Maybe you feel the joy when it rains at night or when you hear your child say something that proves he does listen to you after all.

Joy can fill your day. Happiness comes and goes. Don’t expect others to make you happy. It is not their job. It is not your job to make others happy. You can make them comfortable. You can feed them good food. You can make their lives easier, but it is not your job to make them happy.

Enjoy the riches of your life. You don’t have to be wealthy or be the prettiest or most handsome to know joy. Accept what you have and be at peace with who you are. If you believe you need to change, change because you want to change. Don’t change who you are to make someone else happy. Happiness comes and goes. People come and go. Sometimes, it is just time for them to go. Let go. You may be sad for a while, but sadness comes and goes also.


5 thoughts on “The difference between happiness and joy

  1. Excellent article Barbara.. I found it extremely inspirational.
    Today after reading your article one thing I came to know that there is a difference between happiness and joy and your article made me realize now that Jesus wants to gives us joy in our life. Because Joy is eternal, happiness comes and goes. I loved this article and have printed out. I am going to give this article to my aunt on christmas.
    Thank You Barbara for writing amazing post that helps us to understand our motives in life..
    Merry Christmas..

  2. I definitely needed to read this! I’m learning to let people go out of my life (ones I know aren’t helping me through my journey in Christ). Sadness will come and go. Thank you so much for sharing!

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