Happiness? Or Joy?

This week, I interviewed a pastor for our local paper. We talked about the Christmas season and about how some people struggle emotionally this time of year. He made a statement that was certainly not original to him (I’ve even said it myself before, just not about Christmas), but it resonated with me. He said, “Christmas isn’t always a time of happiness for everyone, but it should be a time of joy.”

Throughout my life, I’ve become keenly aware of the difference between happiness and joy. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our emotions, and in doing so, rely on happiness to sustain us instead of joy. But there are clear differences between the two, and we have to know them.

  • Happiness is based on current circumstances. Joy is based on long-term, even eternal fulfillment.
  • Happiness is transient. Joy is permanent.
  • Happiness is fragile. Joy is solid.
  • Happiness must be fed and is never truly satisfied. Joy sustains itself.
  • Happiness can deceive you. Joy is always true.
  • Happiness is a feeling. Joy is a state of mind.

Do you find yourself chasing after happiness? Or do you look for (or already have) joy? There’s a difference. And once you know that difference and build your life around joy, you’ll see things in a whole new way.


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