Happiness and Joy—from the outside they look a lot alike, but they’re different.
Happiness is a feeling. It goes up and down—fluctuates—based on external circumstances. It’s temporary, fleeting at best. For instance, we check the mailbox and find a notice from the IRS that states we owe a considerable sum in back taxes. For most people our happiness level would plunge. On the flip side, we check the mailbox and find an unexpected refund check from the IRS—it could be in any amount—and our happiness level soars.
Happiness can also be a result of manufactured merriment such as going to the circus, watching a funny movie, attending a birthday party.
When our perspective is governed from the inside out, the external pressures fall away and we experience joy.
Joy is a state of being. It’s inexplicable peace. Joy is internal and when nurtured and encouraged, it becomes resident—abiding—regardless of external circumstances.
Cultivating and maintaining joy eases the struggle that exists along life’s path. Joy leads to grace, the immediate presence of Divine Love.
The life of Viktor Frankl—Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor—is a perfect example of someone with inexplicable peace. He was a joy-filled person even though he was confined by the narrow boundaries of a concentration camp.
Another, more recent example is the many people who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina. There were few whose happiness didn’t plummet. However, there were some who suffered tremendous personal devastation, yet still retained a state of joy—inexplicable peace that defies explanation.
Through which lens do you view life—external happiness, or internal joy?
© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved