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While watching one of the morning news shows a few days ago, (which is a treat because of my work schedule), I was interested to see a short segment by a reporter on ‘The Pursuit of Happiness.’ She talked about the numbers of people who reported that they simply ‘chose to be happy.’ They believed that making a conscious effort to focus on the positive and gratitude makes the difference.
Don’t misunderstand. I love happy people. I love to be the happy person. And I love life, even in the midst of storms.
But the interview got me to thinking about happiness versus joy. What exactly is the difference?
I started by looking up the definition of happiness and found it is, “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” By contrast, the definition of joy which comes from the word rejoice says, “to feel great delight, to welcome or be glad.”
I also found this bit of trivia: the Bible uses the words “happy” and “happiness” about 30 times, while “joy” appears close to 160 times depending on the translation.
So the difference in joy and happiness comes down to this. Joy comes through persevering through the trials and challenges and leaning on Christ as our faith grows and strengthens. In other words, the joy we feel and experience is the deep, abiding kind that is long-lasting. And while we may choose to be happy, happiness tends to be fleeting, temporary and depends on the circumstances of others. There’s the difference—long-lasting versus fleeting.
Neither joy nor happiness comes from having a perfect life. And we can’t make our imperfections perfect by choosing to do so. But we can have faith in our Heavenly Father and seek Him at every turn knowing that perfection awaits us.
Happiness may come and go, but I am comforted to know my joy is eternal. That makes me happy.
I’ll be praying for you.