Happiness vs. Joy

People with depression have phrases that habitually run through their heads. One of mine can be “I am not happy.” IF I follow it out though…it continues on with “but I am not unhappy either.” You see, my depression can be a void of feelings. Even when I am crying and cannot get out of bed, sometimes I have no feelings at all, nothing is wrong (that’s how I know its chemical).

But that phrase “I am not happy” has me constantly evaluating IF I am happy or not. It seems to be the goal. I had a Dr. once tell me “Ms. Hufstetler, the goal is not to keep shooting to be UP all the time- and thereby crash inevitably. The goal is to stay steady somewhere along the scale.” BUT, but, but……. I seem to be steady in a low position on the scale. I WANT UP. I have felt UP. And that is what I consider being happy.

The other day, I asked a co-worker about joy. She had said that something just filled her with joy.

Happiness I am aware of and know it– when I feel it. But joy– what is the difference?

So, I did a little research and this is what I found:

Difference Between Joy and Happiness on Differencebetween.net 
Happiness may be momentary, as it is a result of short-term contentment; but joy, being related to the inner self, is long lasting. Happiness simply pleases a person, while joy brings warmth to that person’s heart, and brings contentment to one’s heart. 

Happiness comes from outside, while joy from within, and with this attitude of joy, the person is in a state of grace. Joy is an extension to happiness. It is a continuous state of happiness, and a positive emotion. It is not merely a fleeting thing, like happiness. 

Upon more research I found this chart:

Happiness & Joy.
MeaningHappiness is an emotion in which one experiences feelings ranging from contentment and satisfaction to bliss and intense pleasure.Joy is a stronger, less common feeling than happiness. Witnessing or achieving selflessness to the point of personal sacrifice frequently triggers this emotion. Feeling spiritually connected to a god or to people.
Causesearthly experiences, material objectsSpiritual experiences, caring for others, gratitude, thankfulness
Emotionoutward expression of elationinward peace and contentment
Time frametemporary, based on outward circumstanceslasting, based on inward circumstances
Chart by Diffen.com

And on that same website it goes on to say:
Happiness is about the self’s pleasure. Happiness may dwell on materialistic, worldly pleasure while joy is derived from soul satisfying, emotional well-being. While happiness comes from outside things, joy is about inner self. To quote an example here: If one wins a lottery of $10,000, they would be very happy but if that person works hard and sets up his business and earns $10,000, he would feel joy. Though the ultimate benefit is the same, the cause being different makes the final emotion different.

There is another difference. We can choose joy:

We get to choose what positively fills us up.

I recently read an article that said the author was depressed at a time when she was truly happy. (???) And she did add that people won’t believe that. (Me)

I have (lifelong) depression on and off. I don’t feel happy when I am depressed.

There are times I can access the feeling of satisfaction. Or I can be proud that I actually did something while so low. But happy? Then again, my son has also been diagnosed with depression and when he is in a mild state he still can watch a video and get a good laugh. That may be happiness. But that is fleeting.

I think what I want is more joy.

I want something long lasting. I want contentment and satisfaction. I want something I can hang onto.

As my co-worker and I talked, she shared that one of the things that brings her lasting joy is her relationship with Jesus. This is something that no one can take away from her or alter in anyway. Hence her joy always lasts.

Now my friend has gone through a lot in the last 4 years. 5 huge traumas on top of each other.

Yet, here she is talking about joy which runs underneath all the pain and sadness. 

Happiness is fleeting. It comes and can go just as quickly. It can be a dog jumping up to greet you, or a joke that just tickles you.

Photo by Hannah Nelson on Pexels.com

Joy is longer lasting. You can carry it with you: like the feeling you get every time you think of your grandkids, knowing you have another day to live, knowing you are clean and sober. These are treasures and not just moments — they are enduring.

From the Meaningful Life Center, I found an article titled: Sukkot: The Power of Joy Amidst Uncertainty. Therein, I found this statement: “…healthy joy is not escape and denial, but the celebration of what makes life worth living….” 

It appears that I have been searching and striving for the wrong emotional state. Happy is good! Don’t get me wrong. But all my life I have been looking for long term pleasure. Writing this post has shown me that I will be more satisfied if I plant joy in my heart and hang onto that. Joy brings with it contentment. Happiness for me is an upward spike in my mood. Joy is peaceful and persists.

Believe me, I want all the happiness I can get; and I welcome it into my life. Moments of bliss are always welcome. I’m just getting tired of chasing the spikes. I am more than ready to settle into a way of life that has a more prevailing delightful mood overall.

Until Next Time~
Blessings, Kate


6 thoughts on “Happiness vs. Joy

Add yours

  1. I always liked the phrase “Enjoy yourself” – to be in joy
    It is most certainly where it’s at! ❤️
    I like this post and it’s clarifications- external (my new car) internal (contentment)
    I cannot ENJOY my new car if I feel like crap on the inside of my body ❤️have a great day! Enjoy ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

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