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Posted December 16, 2022 by Center for Family and Relational Health
Tags: Center for Family and Relational Health

Joy or Happiness: What is the difference between them?

This holiday season, imagine if you will, having one miracle in your home on Christmas morning. When you woke up, everything felt different.  All of your worries went away, and you were finally happy. What would that miracle look like for you in your life? Would it be your teenager doing what you’ve asked them to do on the first try? A complete turnaround in a high-conflict marriage? Or having relief from all your financial troubles? This month, we would like to share our thoughts on whether you need a miracle to be happy, or if there is an alternative to happiness – choosing joy.

Joy image

Happiness is a byproduct of circumstances that meets our expectations. A helpful and non-confrontational teenager, an extra holiday bonus that helps pay bills, or an unexpectedly smooth conversation with your spouse. These are all good things to hope for.  However, when they become our only source of feeling happy about life, happiness - just as fleeting as external circumstances are - will ebb and flow. In some cases, our search for happiness begins and ends with seeking out instant gratification and other people meeting our needs. When that doesn’t happen, we can be left feeling at a loss to where more unpleasant emotions start filling in the gaps in between our expectations and reality. Joy, in contrast, is an internal posture marked by contentment and peace that go beyond circumstances. We may find joy in raising teenagers, going over life lessons of attentiveness and respect, no matter how many times we go over them, because it builds character and fortitude. Joy may be choosing to do things differently in celebrating the holidays while not spending as much because finances are tight and celebrating the fact that you are with those you love. And joy may be recognizing a partner to live life with regardless of the peaks or valleys you find yourselves in.

We invite you to consider choosing joy. During the holiday seasons, one of the greatest joys humanity can find is in being with one another. This can make traditions special, where we bond with each other, honor those connections with gratitude and remember/renew meaning of our relationships and our sense of belonging. In mutual relationships, where we actively engage with our loved ones and they in turn reach out to us in meaningful ways and invite each other into our hearts and minds; there is this sense of feeling seen, wanted, and heard.  Oftentimes, this helps us stay grounded and anchored amid the upheavals of life.

In this holiday season, we invite you to slow down, take notice of what brings you great joy, and initiate connecting moments with whom you are closest. Here are three ways to do that:

We encourage you to shift your focus towards joy.  Perhaps in this holiday season, the shift in perspective to choose joy is in and of itself the miracle. If you find it challenging to cope with the stress, anxiety or the weight of life, don’t hesitate to contact us today at 630-733-8161 or