To many, joy feels elusive, swiftly passing with each emotional experience. However, true joy is simple. It’s found in the midst of pain, happiness or even in the mundane. Some find joy in the beauty of motherhood. Others find joy in their religion or in serving others. With the right mindset, finding or creating joy is easily accessible.
Most confuse happiness with joy, as the difference is subtle. Joy is a state of being while happiness is an emotional response to something positive. Wife and mother of two, Maddie Hansen, further describes they differ.
“The difference between joy and happiness is most stark in the presence of suffering. The beauty of true joy is that it cannot be robbed by pain, it can be in the midst of the mundane. The abiding hopefulness I receive through self-sacrifice, wiping little bottoms or giving of my time. Joy can exist in the presence and absence of the emotion happiness.”
The research Sonja Lyubomirsky documents in her book, The How of Happiness, points out that acts of service are almost always found in the lives of those who sustain true joy. Whether it is found in your family and friendships, at church, amoung coworkers or strangers, doing things for other people brings you joy.
“I don’t have more joy in motherhood because I have awesome kids who do beautiful things that make me feel happy. My joy in motherhood is a by product of letting my life be lived in greater part as service to others,” Hansen said. “Raising kids is painful and hard at times, but it’s precisely the exercise of denying myself that leads to fulfillment.”
One of the most important aspects of living a joyful life is sustaining healthy relationships. Bruce Sonnenberg has been a pastor for 45 years and married to his wife Joni for 47. He finds joy in the relationships he’s been building for most of his life.
“First, I find joy in my relationship with Jesus. Secondly, the fulfillment of life in my family with my wife, children and grandchildren. Thirdly, a real sense of helping people see their purpose for this life.”
Santa Ana College student Addison Dalton also finds happiness in her relationships, even in the midst of a stressful school year. “Although students are put through obstacles like balancing school, sports, homework, family time and sleep, it’s the experiences and being able to establish relationships and create memories with them that brings joy,” Dalton said.
Being around joyful and positive people plays a large role in maintaining your joy. Retired surgeon David Granoff sustains his joyfulness through his family’s joy and success. “Seeing my children succeed brings joy to me. Seeing my wife lled with joy only multiplies my own joy,” Granoff said. “From a doctor’s perspective, I was happy to see patients get a good result from surgery, yet I received joy when they were able to accomplish something they previously were unable to do, due to health limitations.”
It’s normal to feel sadness, but it’s important to remember that pain is eeting, and that joy remains.
“Joy and sadness are not opposed to one another. Joy and sadness can often coexist. It’s peculiar when they do, but it’s so beautiful. I have seen people grieve deeply the loss of a loved one but still rest in joy,” Hansen said.
Joy can be found everywhere and at any time, especially in the sweet moments. Sonnenberg’s wife Joni, puts it simply, “joy is still holding hand after 47 years.”