The Thing About Happiness

21 Mar

Yesterday was the International Day of Happiness. (There’s a day for everything, isn’t there?) Not surprisingly, this day devoted to  being happy coincided with the first day of Spring which, in my opinion, is definitely a reason for feeling some happy! Hello Spring!!


On my drive home from work (which offers me numerous opportunities to lose my happy), I thought about being happy – what it means to be truly happy, why some people seem happy and others do not, and how we can get to happy-ville & stay there.

The key, I think, is quite simple. In fact, it’s just three little words: joy. Happiness without joy is shallow and temporary. Something will happen in our circumstances that will change our happiness to sadness, grief, frustration, anger, or a thousand other emotions. Without joy, we can’t retain happiness.

Many people believe the purpose of life is to be happy. You’ve heard the phrases before – you may have even said them yourself:

  • “Do what makes you happy.”
  • “I just want to be happy.”
  • “I’m not happy in this {marriage/job/relationship/city} anymore.”

But the elusive “happy” can be frustrating to capture and even more challenging to maintain. That’s because happiness is a temporary emotion brought on by a positive experience. Without positive experiences, there is no happy.

Joy, on the other hand, is a decision, not an emotion. It is a conscious state of being that we choose to achieve or we choose to avoid.

I’ve realized it’s not happiness we should try to secure, but instead we should work toward living life filled with joy. If we are able to do that, happiness will follow at appropriate times. But don’t be misled, living a joyful life doesn’t mean you have to always smile, be perky, or hum a happy tune all day. On the contrary, a joyful life means that in the middle of the everyday struggles or gut-wrenching pain, we can experience peace and keep resentment at bay.

We can experience joy even when we are not happy.

  • I can choose to be joyful in the face of a cancer diagnosis.
  • You can choose to live with joy while dealing with a personal crisis or heartache.
  • We can choose a life filled with joy, no matter how difficult this season of life may be.

And by choosing joy, we open up the door and invite happiness inside. By choosing joy, we refuse to allow bitterness to take root. By choosing joy, we embrace the good, look for the beauty, and trust that God’s got this.

I know the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.

Psalm 16:8-9


One Response to “The Thing About Happiness”

  1. Andrew March 22, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    While I am not sure I would go quite as far as you, joy or attitude makes a tremendous difference to how we get through our treatment, and how we easy or not we are to family members and friends who are caring or supporting us. We are more resilient, we are more able to bounce back, and have a better sense of perspective. Doesn’t mean we don’t have our down moments – we all do and I certainly do – but we persevere and savour those moments when we can.

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