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The past few months have not been easy. I’m not going to go into details because we all have trials and, for each of us, they are equally difficult. Suffice to say, I’ve been doing a lot of searching within myself and my life – looking for answers and solutions that will get me back to where I use to be emotionally.
Just a few days ago I was driving home from dropping Eli off at preschool and I went into my normal ‘thinking phase’. I always ride with the radio off and just think about everything going on, using that time in the same way others may use the shower, morning coffee etc. On this day I was feeling particularly defeated and I decided to fight against it by being thankful. I started going down the list of things that are good: my home, the health of my children, income to put food on the table, my husband and my family. All of these things make me happy. So why did my days still feel so…heavy?
I started thinking about happiness and, beyond that, joy. They are not one in the same. Happiness is a daily occurrence. It can happen in an instant, but it can also disappear as quickly. It is not permanent and must be constantly pursued.
“If life is based on obtaining happiness, then we will always fall short because life is always changing…” lessons4living
If I experience a happy moment with my children, by the end of the day many negative things can happen that make that happiness fade away. Work, arguments, bills or even burning dinner – all of these things erase positive experiences that came before them. The memory is there, of course. But, the emotional effects of that memory can wash away, requiring you to do something new that makes you happy again.
Happiness is effect. Joy is action.
While happiness centers around your own feelings and is reliant upon circumstance, joy extends to those outside of you and remains through both good and bad situations. Joy is not emotion, but rather a state of mind – a determination – and far more resilient. But, because of that, it requires more from you. Seeing your child laugh about a messy ice cream cone is happiness, but joy comes from the act of sharing that ice cream with them – giving of your time to provide for their happiness.
“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” – Mark Twain
Joy is about moving past what I need, past my ego, past ‘me’ and reaching out to others. It’s also about accepting that I will not always be happy, but I can foster a joy that will keep me from scraping the bottom during those periods of unhappiness.
Today and tomorrow and the day after… I choose to appreciate happiness, but live joy.