I had lunch with a friend the other day, and the subject of how we seem to crave a fulfilled life through happiness came up. It made me think about happiness and joy, and how they are both great feelings to experience but are different even though some may think they are the same. I was talking with my daughter, and I asked her what she thought true happiness was. She turned her head for a minute “like mom, what are you asking me this time” and then explained it in a way that made sense to me. “Joy is something I can control, and happiness is dependent on other people and things I surround myself with.” I had nothing to say because she had nailed it. Joy comes when you make peace with yourself and who you are, and happiness is reliant on the world we live in and the things and people in it. Happiness can come when things are good. Have you ever heard someone say rate how happy you are on a scale of 1 to 10? Happiness is a sliding scale and can change as the people, and things change around us. We become happier when something positive happens or the opposite, afterward, when something not so great happens. Joy, on the other hand, is a mindset or a way of life, and it runs deeper than happiness. I know for sure that I find my joy when I open myself to the presence of God. When I can feel God in my life, I have a sense of peace and a better understanding of who I am. It can also be contagious; the joy I find in having a relationship with Christ can flow through me to others.
We all remember Winnie the Pooh. I want to take a moment to think about the differences between Tigger and Eyore. Tigger bounces through life never a worry in the world and is fun-loving, cheerful, outgoing, optimistic, and confident. Eeyore, on the other hand, is pessimistic, worrisome, and depressing. Now, these are both just characters in a book, but who would you rather be? Eyore’s attitude keeps him from ever finding joy and has given up, but Tigger’s approach leads to a life of enjoyment. I am pretty sure we would all choose Tigger, who is destined to lead a life of joy and happiness because he is at peace with who he is.
Sometimes I lose touch with how to cultivate joy. I can easily become Eyore and get lost in my negativity and worry. That is especially true when I find myself drifting away from my relationship with God. God does not want us to be worrisome he wants us to be enthusiastic and at peace. So when we can trust in Him, those feelings go away and allow us to be joyful. We all need to remember that we can control our joy.
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.” William James American philosopher and psychologist