Stop Chasing Happiness. Choose Joy Instead.

It is the time of year where we hear a lot about joy. We sing Joy to the World when it comes on the radio or at church on Sunday morning. We receive Christmas cards from loved one that wish us “Peace and Joy”. We spend most of our time obsessed with the pursuit of happiness. Am I happy? Are they happier than I am? How do I become happier? But how often do we think about how joyful we are? How often are we intentionally choosing joy?⁣⁣⁣Many people may see happiness and joy as interchangeable, but I would argue that they are very different. In their book Love People, Use Things, The Minimalists provide a great framework for understanding the nuances between pleasure, happiness, contentment, and joy.⁣⁣Pleasure is something that feels good and is enjoyed in the moment. Happiness is also felt in the moment, when “your decision aligns with the person you aspire to be.” So while pleasure can come from any number of things, happiness comes from an alignment with your identity and values.⁣⁣Both pleasure and happiness, however, are momentary and fleeting. The Minimalists liken it to eating: pleasure is eating a delicious piece of birthday cake, while happiness is eating a delicious, healthy meal. In both cases, you will get hungry again. Contentment and joy, on the other hand, are both nourishing and sustaining.⁣⁣If happiness is one healthy meal, The Minimalists argue, then contentment is having consistent, well-balanced meals over a long period of time. Having that sustained consistency allows you to feel truly satisfied.⁣⁣IF WE ARE CONTENT, WHY PURSUE JOY?⁣⁣For those who are constantly chasing pleasure and happiness – either seeking the dopamine rush from money, stuff, food, sex, social approval, or finding things and experiences that bring us happiness in the moment- contentment seems like an admirable goal. One definition of being contented is “feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.” Instead of the constant pursuit of more, contentment is the satisfaction with what you have right now. The mantra of contentment could be: I have enough. I am enough. Just as I am, imperfect, in this moment.⁣So why would we seek to experience joy if we are content with our lives as they are? I believe there are two key reasons: circumstances and community.⁣⁣FINDING JOY WITHIN YOU AND SHARING JOY WITH THOSE AROUND YOU⁣⁣The standard definitions of joy make it sound like happiness on steroids: “a feeling of great happiness”, “the emotion of great delight”. These standard definitions stem from the Latin word gaudium. There is, however, another definition of joy that I would like to propose, based upon the Greek word

Stop Chasing Happiness. Choose Joy Instead.

It is the time of year where we hear a lot about joy. We sing Joy to the World when it comes on the radio or at church on Sunday morning. We receive Christmas cards from loved one that wish us “Peace and Joy”. We spend most of our time obsessed with the pursuit of happiness. Am I happy? Are they happier than I am? How do I become happier? But how often do we think about how joyful we are? How often are we intentionally choosing joy?⁣

⁣Many people may see happiness and joy as interchangeable, but I would argue that they are very different. In their book Love People, Use Things, The Minimalists provide a great framework for understanding the nuances between pleasure, happiness, contentment, and joy.⁣

Pleasure is something that feels good and is enjoyed in the moment. Happiness is also felt in the moment, when “your decision aligns with the person you aspire to be.” So while pleasure can come from any number of things, happiness comes from an alignment with your identity and values.⁣

Both pleasure and happiness, however, are momentary and fleeting. The Minimalists liken it to eating: pleasure is eating a delicious piece of birthday cake, while happiness is eating a delicious, healthy meal. In both cases, you will get hungry again. Contentment and joy, on the other hand, are both nourishing and sustaining.⁣

If happiness is one healthy meal, The Minimalists argue, then contentment is having consistent, well-balanced meals over a long period of time. Having that sustained consistency allows you to feel truly satisfied.⁣

IF WE ARE CONTENT, WHY PURSUE JOY?⁣

For those who are constantly chasing pleasure and happiness – either seeking the dopamine rush from money, stuff, food, sex, social approval, or finding things and experiences that bring us happiness in the moment- contentment seems like an admirable goal. One definition of being contented is “feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.” Instead of the constant pursuit of more, contentment is the satisfaction with what you have right now. The mantra of contentment could be: I have enough. I am enough. Just as I am, imperfect, in this moment.

So why would we seek to experience joy if we are content with our lives as they are? I believe there are two key reasons: circumstances and community.⁣

FINDING JOY WITHIN YOU AND SHARING JOY WITH THOSE AROUND YOU⁣

The standard definitions of joy make it sound like happiness on steroids: “a feeling of great happiness”, “the emotion of great delight”. These standard definitions stem from the Latin word gaudium.

There is, however, another definition of joy that I would like to propose, based upon the Greek word