Joy and Happiness

Joy and happiness are not the same.

Happiness comes from outside. It is that feeling we get when the things going on around us make us feel good. A victory, a lover’s touch, a frisky puppy can all make us happy. But a defeat, a lover’s absence, or a puppy ruining our shoes can make us unhappy.

Joy, on the other hand, comes from inside. It is the choice to remain positive, satisfied, even grateful–no matter what else is going on around us. Joy is the choice to see that the defeat is temporary, the lover still loves us even if they’re not with us, the puppy is still adorable even when it’s ruined our shoes.

Joy is harder than happiness, because it requires courage. How easy it is to look at our circumstances and say, what do I have to be happy about? Life sucks, and let anger color our view of everything, and let it all be someone else’s fault. It’s harder–much harder–to take responsibility for our own lives, to say, what have I done to make my life suck? What can I do differently to make it better? That way requires us to own our lives, the good and the bad, to take steps to change what we can and accept what we can’t. And being responsible for our own lives is scary.

Does happiness always flow from joy? No. We all face trials that make even the most joyful of us forget to be positive sometimes. But it’s a rare thing indeed for joy to flow from happiness, because we don’t have to make the hard choice when we’re already happy. Choosing joy makes the hard times shorter and easier to overcome than waiting for happiness.

For myself, I choose joy. It’s not always easy to remember–but it’s always worth the effort when I do.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.