The Difference Between “Happiness” and “Joy”

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

In our culture today we often confuse and interchange the words “happiness” and “joy”. I’ve done it before, and probably without thinking will do it again. What’s so wrong with using those words to mean the same thing? Despite what it might seem like, those two are not synonyms, and it is a mistake to use them as such.

I realized this just about a year ago, but it actually took me to pinpoint the exact difference. See, I knew that when I said I was happy, it meant that I was, well, happy. But when I said I was joyful, I didn’t exactly mean happiness, at least, not quite. I meant something else, something deeper. I dealt with that irritating feeling you get when you know what a word means, but you can’t quite define it.

I almost gave up and shrugged off the whole thing as some weird fluke of the English language, I just couldn’t find an answer. The only thing that kept me searching was that I had to teach a lesson for my Youth Group, and a big part of the lesson was “joy”. When I realized this, I buckled down, and brainstormed with my Youth Pastor in one last attempted to capture the difference between “joy” and “happiness” About fifteen minutes in, it occurred to me that I was stuck in this realm of emotions, but what if joy wasn’t necessarily a different emotion than happiness, but something deeper! By following that train of thought, I finally found the separation between “joy” and “happiness”.

Happiness is a fleeting emotion, while Joy is a choice

What do I mean by “a choice”? Happiness is what you feel when you win a sports game, or get your favorite ice cream. It’s an awesome feeling, but it doesn’t last. Sometimes all it takes is one bad thing to happen, and all that previously felt happiness is gone. Joy, on the other hand, is much longer-lasting. Joy is a choice. While you can’t always choose happiness, you can make the conscious decision to live joyously. Everyone knows that one person who just radiates joy. Whenever you’re around them, you feel more content and more at peace.

Joy is a lifestyle. As weird as it sounds, you can be sad and joyous at the same time. Because joy is less about emotions and more about the way you choose to live your life. Life can be really short, don’t waste to much time being thrown around by whatever you’re feeling day-to-day. Take life by the horns, and choose joy. Tommorow’s blog will cover some tips on how to do just that.

And as always my friends, choose joy.