I plan to do a little self-reflection in my next few notes from the Executive Director as I focus on our mission statement:

“Together we create a joyful and vibrant community.”

What is joy? And what is the difference between joy and happiness? Joy does not come from a glance at a newborn baby, a sweet giggle from an old friend, a funny joke, or strawberry ice cream—that’s happiness. Happiness can be the frame that surrounds joy, but joy is the picture within. To me, that picture is composed of people and relationships that touch us deep within and leave a lasting impression.

Here are some great thoughts on joy from compassion.com:

  • Joy is in the heart. Happiness is on the face.
  • Joy exists. Happiness reacts.
  • Joy runs deep and overflows, while happiness hugs hello.
  • Joy embraces peace and contentment, waiting to be discovered. Happiness comes and goes blithely along its way.
  • Joy is profound and Scriptural. “Don’t worry, rejoice.” Happiness is a balm. “Don’t worry, be happy.”
  • Joy is an inner feeling. Happiness is an outward expression.
  • Joy endures hardship and trials and connects with meaning and purpose.
  • Joy is of the soul. Happiness is of the moment.
  • Joy is a choice, a practice, and a behavior. It’s deliberate and intentional.

It’s possible to feel joy in difficult times. Joy doesn’t need a smile in order to exist, although it does feel better with one. Joy can share its space with other emotions—sadness, shame, or anger. Happiness can’t. The difference between joy and happiness resides in the mind and heart. Choose joy. Practice joy. Know joy. Live joy. Feel happiness.

Tamara Steffen

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