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Seeking Happiness, but Finding Joy

Seeking Happiness, but Finding Joy


For many people, they spend their whole life searching for something to satisfy their craving for happiness. They are constantly searching for something, anything, that will bring even the tiniest bit of contentment, yet they always find themselves feeling empty when temporary satisfaction leads to disappointment. 


It happens all too often and the consequences of misplacing their emotions could prove to be detrimental to a person’s outlook on life. Instead of just accepting that happiness is a fleeting concept and that genuine satisfaction may never be in our future, how can we make solid steps to being truly and authentically happy?


I believe the first step to accomplishing this is to understand that happiness and joy are two radically different concepts that are often used interchangeably. In people’s perception, this is the number one flaw, because generally, people believe they want to be happy when in reality what they really want is joy. 


The difference is; happiness is one of 27 emotions and is only experienced externally, not internally. Happiness is brought about by outside forces triggered by family, friends, things, experiences, etc. Whereas, joy is so much more enduring and fulfilling than happiness. It is consistent and internal, only being created once you find peace with who you are, what you are, and where you are. We may crave the ease of happiness or the momentary contentment that it creates, however, once it fades away, we realize that it will never be enough to make us feel whole. Joy gives us that. It satisfies the craving and doesn’t leave us feeling empty. 


Don’t get me wrong, happiness is normal and great! But happiness is the same as sadness or anger. It is temporary and pursuing only one emotion is dangerous, because you need all 27 to be balanced and whole. Of course people want happiness, it is so nice to be given a gift or have coffee with a good friend. But being whole is truly the most beautiful a person can be. We learn in our confusion, grow in our heartbreak, develop in our frustration. 


So, how can we be in the pursuit of true authentic joy? The answer is honestly simple, but simple and easy are two very different things. The key to being joyful is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness looks different to different people, so here are some general tools for incorporating mindfulness in your life to achieve joy.


1. Meditate


Meditation looks different from person to person. Some go into an extremely quiet space, dim the lights and get comfy. Others may immerse themselves in nature and use the chirping of the birds or the sound of water as a way to center themselves. No matter how you do it, the important part of meditation is to set a specific time to escape daily stress. In meditation, you are giving your body the attention it needs to function and maintain your health. I encourage you to set time aside often where you are able to get away from screens and people and focus on what your body needs to live a calmer and more joyful life.



2. Limit Other People’s Influence in Your Life


On a daily basis your decisions are being influenced by the people around you. It may be something as small as what you decide to eat for lunch, or what you watch on tv; however, it could be something as detrimental as letting people influence your personality or what kind of day you are going to have. My best advice to avoid this, is that you spend time getting to know yourself on a deeper level. The more you know yourself, the easier it is to tune out the opinions of other people. It is all too often that we let someone else’s opinion of us cloud our own judgment, unfortunately, it also affects our perception of life. To be genuinely more joyful, we must place our worth in our own thoughts about who we are and not in other people’s. 


3. Take Part in Mindful Activities


I encourage you to find some sort of activity that engages the cognitive part of your brain and is something you genuinely enjoy doing. Some examples of “mindful” activities could be doodling or journaling. Both of these activities utilize calming techniques that are also purposeful and reveal aspects of your personality that you didn’t even know existed. The goal of mindful activities is to restructure the way you think and declutters your mind. Rerouting your thoughts to be more calming through mindful activities is the most effective way to be more joyful in your everyday life.


Simply being aware of the things in your life that are keeping you from being the most joyful version of yourself is the first step to changing negative patterns of behavior. The more you work to get to know yourself, the easier it will be to avoid momentary happiness and instead be able to achieve full and authentic joy.

A sophomore Behavioral Health Science major at GCU with a passion for new experiences, binge-watching Netflix, sunsets, finding new ways to be creative, and serving God in everything I do.
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