If you were to ask a group of people what they want most out of life you’re sure to hear “happiness.” On the surface, that seems like a great answer. Who doesn’t want to be happy? Wouldn’t it be great to be happy all of the time? Unfortunately, happiness is not a permanent situation. While happiness is a great feeling, it is short lived and fleeting. Happiness is not the result of something inward, or our own positive state of being. Happiness is the direct result of something else. And when circumstances change, the happiness decreases and eventually disappears. The short duration of this good feeling is why so many people feel the need to chase it, seeking happiness as if it were the answer to all of life’s problems.
How exactly do we chase happiness? By buying something because it’ll make us feel better. Or by making a decision because it will “make us” happy. We chase happiness by telling ourselves that we would be more satisfied or happier in life “if only.” Unfortunately, the cycle of “if onlys” doesn’t end. Those new shoes that made you so happy in the moment do not supply a long term result. Neither will that car, the new hairstyle or even your bank account balance. Eventually, the appeal will fade and there will be something else that you’re looking for to create happiness. So instead of chasing happiness, the fleeting feeling that is based on outward circumstances, choose to seek joy.
Although the two words are commonly used interchangeably, joy and happiness are two different concepts. Joy is greater than happiness. It is long lasting. Joy is not the result of outward circumstances or things. Joy is the result of being at peace and content with who you are as a person. It’s a lasting feeling because it is all about you. Instead of being fleeting, it is permanent. Joy can be described as faith or self-love. It is the part of you that becomes full when you do a work of service for someone else. It is the part of you that can get you through rough patches. Joy is the emotion that can stand in the place where the negative thoughts you’ve worked to eliminate previously held ground.
How can you find joy? Most people find that joy accompanies peace. Maybe it’s moment on the beach with sun on your face or how you feel after helping a friend. In those moments and places where you feel peaceful and part of the greater good you can find your joy.