The word “joy” is rarely used until the Christmas season arrives when it permeates our language. That’s because many Christians equate joy with the religious love of God for all creatures on earth.
Even if you aren’t religious, the holiday season can be a time of great joy for people who experience deep contentment, gratitude or happiness.
What is the difference between joy and happiness?
Alan McPherson, a retired minister of Central Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, distinguishes between happiness and joy this way: “Happiness is an emotion. Joy is deeper, more long-lasting. It is based more on inner certainties, not external events.”
Healthpyschology.org has a similar, but slightly different definition, saying happiness is an emotional state of well-being defined by positive feelings ranging from contentment to intense joy.
There are many passages in the bible that use joy and happiness interchangeably and yet religious groups often equate joy with God’s love to mean a more deeper, long-lasting emotion.
For me, the moments of joy in my life are the times when I have felt supremely happy and at one with the world. These moments are rare, but so very special.
This week’s #HappyAct is to find joy this holiday season. Celebrate peace on earth and a time when joyful all ye nations rise. Listen to a choir echoing its joyous strains and repeat the sounding joy. The weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
2 thoughts on “Joy to the world”
My definition of joy vs happiness is exactly the opposite of Alan McPherson! I feel joy sometimes at the smallest events, eg, something spontaneous and unexpected that might happen that is a good surprise. I feel that happiness is a deeper, long-lasting feeling that permeates your whole life and outlook. Thank you for this blog post; great topic.
It’s funny, Jilly cause I was thinking about this more and it was interesting to find such diametrically opposed definitions of joy and happiness. For me joy is more pure and exultant, but again, that could be my protestant upbringing and being steeped in Christian traditions and definitions.