For the past couple of weeks, the topic of joy has been at the forefront of my heart and mind. How do we experience joy; what is it? Joy is a combination of things, such as contentment, peace, delight, gratitude--it is a deep culmination of these conditions of the heart. Joy in it's purest and most wholesome form is embodied by Jesus Christ. When Christ lives within our hearts, joy is a natural fruit that is produced within us through Him, since all fruit of the Spirit are of God.
1) Joy is greater and more profound than happiness
To begin, joy is not the same as happiness. While being happy is a momentary great place to be, it is centered on our own perception and environment, and thus impossible to maintain indefinitely. This is because happiness stems from our own expectations and interpretations of what is going on around us and how it benefits our individual worlds.
For example, I can feel and be happy when I help someone, like helping an old lady carry her groceries. I might feel happy from this because I believe I have just done something good. This is implying the expectation that I already anticipated before helping the lady--that helping someone is good and therefore can make me feel a positive emotion--along with my own interpretation that what I did is in fact a good thing. This emotion is like a gust of wind, however, and the next day I will probably not feel as happy about what I did compared to when I first committed the act.
At the same time, I can feel happy when I win the lottery. The increase in mood that occurs from things like this is fleeting, and my interpretation that this is a good thing that has happened to me can be misleading. The money I received from the lottery can easily turn into a bad influence, and then prove to be something that makes me feel anything but “happy”.