Joy Or Happiness?

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What’s the difference between joy and happiness?

Despite their similarities, joy and happiness are different emotions people hold. But they are often used interchangeably as in Happy Holidays and Joy to the World.  In actuality, joy is not happiness. Nothing can be further. Below are my take on them.

  • Similarities – both joy and happiness are positive emotions we experience.
  • Differences – joy last while happiness fleet. Joy is spiritual to each individual person while happiness results from external source(s).

The late Rev. Billy Graham described happiness this way: “We experience a sense of happiness when our circumstances are pleasant and we’re relatively free from troubles . . . When circumstances change — as they inevitably do — then this kind of happiness evaporates.”

Very apropos description.

Rev. Graham went on further to distinguish the “temporary” happiness to a more lasting or permanent one, the joy.  I preferred to differentiate them on the source of these emotions vice their duration.

Because joy lies inside of us whereas happiness is from external. We find joy not in the praise we receive but in the accomplishment we achieve, not in the gift others provide but in the self-worth or satisfaction we derive. We cultivate our own joy.  

Even if our surrounding is adverse, we can still achieve joy. Take running a marathon for example: running 26.2 miles is hard, challenging, and often perceived as negative.  But completing one can be the most joyful feeling a person has ever accomplished.

How would you differentiate joy from happiness?

This entry was posted in awareness, Boston Marathon, value and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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