A dictionary defines happiness as “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” The definition of the word “rejoice,” from which the word “joy” comes, is “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad.” All that is good, but what is the real difference between Joy and Happiness? I being the curious type had to know, so I decided to do some research.
I have been told that happiness is external and based on situations, events, people, places, things, and thoughts. So, happiness is the result of outside situations, people, or events that align with your expectations. Joy is internal and comes when you make peace with who you are, where you are, and why you are (Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pathological-relationships/201212/joy-vs-ha).
I was getting a better idea of the difference but I wanted to see how the words were used. Just about every reference I found referred to a religious text. Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words “happy” and “happiness” about 30 times, while “joy” and “rejoice” appear over 300 times. A little research showed me the word “happy” comes from the Hebrew root word ashar and means “to set right or be blessed.” The word “joy” comes from the Greek root word chara and means “to be exceedingly glad.” Found that at http://www.gotquestions.org/joy-happiness.html. Getting closer but still not real clear on what the differences are. After reading several of the verses where the words were used I concluded that happiness tends to be fleeting and depends on circumstances. There was always an event that preceded happiness. Joy, on the other hand, is true contentment that comes from internal factors like our faith or self-mastery skills. True joy is not dependent upon circumstances.
It would seem to me that happiness can be acquired. I can purchase a car or earn a degree and be happy. It is more dependent on my ability to control my future, define my vision and stay on my path to success. Happiness is always passing through. I can be happy for the few minutes that it takes to have my morning coffee. Joy seems to need a bit more work. I believe that joy is dependent on my faith, attitude and self-confidence. Activities like meditation are better suited to joy. So, consider having my morning coffee while I meditate. I can go forth and be happy or joyful.
If I wanted to be happy I would head to the boat dealer and buy that Grand Banks yacht that I always wanted. Of course, happiness may be short lived when the first payment notice arrives. If I wanted to be joyful, I would sharpen my self-mastery skills and learn to meditate. I chose meditation because if Joy is internal, that skill is best suited to find it. I also prefer being joyful because I can’t afford to buy a yacht every week.
My bottom line on finding joy is this; develop a faith that melds well with your culture. With that faith develop a set of values and a vision. Define your path guided by your values headed towards your vision. Now consider skills, relationships, career, and memberships that will reinforce your faith and help you realize your vision. Now here is a wonderful thought, if you did all that you could be both happy and joyful.