I have often seen the terms “joy” and “happiness” used interchangeably by people. The problem is that, although these seem to derive from similar decisions, they are truly not the same. Not to get too “churchy” on you, but Christians have a different perspective on what joy is, and what happiness represents. I am presenting to you this highly opinionated post from a Christian perspective; however, do not just dump it and move on. There is quite a lot that you can get out of this.
Joy is an emotion that demonstrates a sense of content. Being content does not mean that you have settled for something that is lesser than what you deserve. ABSOLUTELY NOT. It means that you are at peace with yourself, that you have lived enough to know that things will work out. You have also learned to “get over it” and move on with your life. This all sounds very negative; however, these are true statements. Joy is not an emotion or a word that you use as vengeance, but as an empowering feeling that no miserable memory can take away. In the Bible, there is a verse that speaks of joy as a term of resiliency.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 (NIV).
Therefore, one can truly find joy in the trials that are presented in life. I remember being present during the last living days of my maternal grandmother. He was in such absolute pain from cancer that was eating at her red cells. I prayed that either God would please remove the pain and bring her back to normal, or to get rid of all pain by sending her to grandma heaven. My grandmother died about a week after my prayer. I was devastated, but felt joy because I felt that she was now at peace, in a way better place than cancer! I felt joy in my time of mourning because I was convinced that God was with me in this impact-full life trial.
Happiness is an emotion that can be confused with other emotions. It is also dependent upon a stimuli. Therefore, an individual cannot truly feel happy if not triggered to be happy from any source deemed to make funny the individual.
My recommendation is that you seek out a positive emotion, and exercise it like an actual muscle. You will be surprised at how much you will want joy over happiness.