Why Settle for Happy?

Happiness is temporary but joy lasts a lifetime. – EE Winkler

We all love to be happy. It feels good. I once had a history professor that stated, “everything we do in life is to make us happy.” It stuck with me. I pondered it in my head and I realized that there was a lot of truth to his statement. But I still wondered, is it entirely true? Are there innately things that we intentionally do for others without seeking our own happiness? Or do we do the things, to make them feel happy, because making them happy, makes us happy? Ha! Do you see what I mean?

There is a peacefulness that is found in joy and not in happiness.

But beyond the idea of happy, I believe that joy is something that can actually be a life’s ambition, a state of mind, a posture. When I think of happiness, I think of this fluffy, fleeing, feeling.

  • I am happy when I eat my favorite food.
  • I am happy when I finish my workout.
  • I am happy when the light turns green.
  • I am happy when I see a butterfly.
  • I am happy when I have a soft serve ice cream cone.

But have you ever considered, that living your life from the ambition of finding happiness, could be settling for so much less than what you were actually made for? What if we’re settling by striving to be happy? What if, joy is actual the greater ambition?

What is true about joy?

Joy can remain in pain.

Pain does not make me happy. I don’t think about pain and smile. But I can still have joy, even when I encounter pain. Why? For I am learning, that pain is just a tool that is used to transform me. And if I choose, it will transform me to make me better and not bitter.

Joy outlasts happiness.

The feeling of being happy, typically does not last very long. I find that no matter what people get or do that makes them happy, if you look at their face in a few hours, you’ll probably find them with a scowl on their face as they scroll down the screen on their phone. Is that what we’re really chasing? That fickle, fading, fluffy, feeling? Alternatively, joy is a state of mind. If we allow it, it can permeate everything we think about thus directly impacting everything we do. There is a peacefulness that is found in joy and not in happiness.

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Joy demands the marathon, happiness commands the sprint. Most people do not have joy because it’s difficult and it takes time to build. It requires a humility that most of us don’t want to submit to. Joy beckons to take one step at a time and not giving up, while happiness wants to measure life in sprints. Happiness yells, “if I don’t get what I want then I’m done!” Joy whispers, “I know there is more than my eyes can see. I will take one step at a time and keep going.”

We don’t have to settle for “happy seasons of life.” Instead we can embrace a joyous life.

What will you choose?

 

 

 

 

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