Friday, March 29, 2013

joy vs. happiness: the great debate

There are so many times in life where people, including myself, confuse happiness with joy. People always ask, are you happy? And I always felt poorly about my life because that answer would change with every day, every minute. There would be days where I could say, yes, I do feel happy and I was relieved that, finally, my life was coming together. But, the next day or the next week or month, something would happen – I would fight with my friends,my boyfriend would break up with me, I wouldn’t do well in a class, whatever it was would cause my entire world to feel like it was crumbling and than the cycle would continue. I would ask myself when life would get better, when I would finally be happy, when would things go my way.

I hate to admit that happiness in life is dependent upon circumstances, but that’s exactly what happiness is. When you look up happy in the dictionary, it’s described as an adjective. It describes something, it’s what something is. But, if you look up joy, it’s described as a noun. It exists. It’s there no matter what happens. It is.

Joy is the thing I realize I haven’t had in my life. Joy is actually the thing I’ve been looking for, not happiness. Every single moment of my life, how I felt was reliant upon my circumstances. The people in my life dictated my moods, how I felt, the direction my life was going, even who I was.

What I’ve realized is joy is something you decide to have. Joy is what you choose to bring into your life, it’s what you choose to feel. Happiness is what we don’t choose; happiness is what comes from the things life brings.

This past year has been that hardest of my life and it's been so easy to bury myself in the negativity, the doubt, the loss, the sadness. But, I woke up one day and wondered what that was accomplishing. I looked at my life and realized it wasn't going to go anywhere as long as I continued to hate myself and my life. 

Each day, I wake up choosing to be joyful, despite my circumstances. I wake up focusing on all the blessings I have in my life, being thankful for something new each day (I haven’t run out of things to be thankful for yet!), and most days, the things I don’t have and the things I’ve gone through don’t hurt as much. But, some days they do. But, I’m thankful I have another new day to wake up to and be grateful for.