Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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my thoughts: on the difference between joy and happiness

I have come to believe that these two, joy and happiness, are most definitely not synonyms.  Neither are they both descriptions of feelings, necessarily.  Happiness definitely is.  And it is, perhaps wrongly, what most folks pursue.  Our Father never promised us happiness.  It is not the purpose of our being.  We are, that we might have joy.  Joy is the purpose of our existence and our life here and now.

Happiness is the feeling that fills our chest at times of pleasure and enjoyment.  The absence of it may result in our feeling that we are experiencing depression, sadness, and other emotions with negative connotations.  Ultimately, though I still mightily struggle with this at times, we choose our feelings.

Because happiness is a feeling, it comes and goes when we are not in good control.  It is a bit flighty, as feelings often are.  And not necessarily trustworthy, as feelings most certainly usually are not.

I am working hard to teach my children that feelings are not facts.   That they are changeable and we can choose to feel differently when we don't like the feeling we're feeling!  It's a difficult lesson to know, but extremely valuable.  Even more worthwhile when we can fully learn it and thereby utilize the knowledge in our daily lives!

Joy.  Now, joy is trustworthy.  And once you have it, you'll have to do a whole heck of a lot to get rid of it.  Because this joy to which I refer is born of faith and hope in Christ and a deep and abiding understanding of His matchless love for oneself and all of mankind.

This part of our existence, joy, is present even when we are sad, mad, glad... whatever.  I have truly felt joy underlying feelings I consider unpleasant.  This new-to-me understanding of joy is a constant source of Peace.  I recognize joy's ever present nature now and come to more fully understand that we truly were created to have joy.

We can experience joy in work (especially when we feel confident that we are doing what the Lord would have us do), joy in our progeny, joy in family relationships, joy in service, joy in simply being alive.  We are, that we might have joy

Some may attempt to argue that the difference is merely semantics.  Not so!  If God created all that is by the Word, then that tells us that words are creative.  And it makes perfect sense.  Doesn't it?!

Let's choose to be happy and feel the joy available if we will have faith and hope and accept His love!
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