Joy vs Happiness

One of the first lessons we were taught during training camp was joy vs. happiness. I always thought the two words were synonymous, but I learned that they are actually two separate things. We were told that happiness is a feeling and so is joy, but the difference is that joy is choosing to be happy even if you don’t have an obvious reason to be happy. It was intriguing to me, but I still didn’t understand what that looked like, much less how to do it, but over the course of ten days, God taught me through the people of Puerto Rico.


Our fourth day here, we visited the San Juan Children’s Hospital, which was the number one thing I wanted to do and the last thing I wanted to do all at the same time. I assumed we would meet all of these cute kids that were terminally ill with these sad little faces that would make me cry and their families sitting in the corner crying, but I was so wrong. Two particular kids stuck out to me, Caleb and Mia. Caleb is a two year old that was recovering from a bad case of the flu and he was there with his dad while his mom was at work. From the second we walked in the room he was smiling, giggling, and just being generally adorable. We talked with his dad and prayed with them and the entire time Caleb would smile and play with his oxygen tube, which came through the top of his crib, punching it like a boxer. Both of them were so full of joy even though they were in a hospital. Mia was a 6 year old with an infection; she was there with her cousin and had been there for a while. She was really shy, but had a smile that was so beautiful and it was impossible not to join in when she laughed. We offered to make her a bracelet and she helped; it was pink and green and she had to make sure there was an even number of each color. She didn’t speak a lot, but she kept smiling and laughing and you could clearly see that she wasn’t brought down by her surroundings or her health. Seeing these bright smiles even in a hospital was definitely eye opening and gave me a whole new perspective.

From puertorico.myadventures.org 

It took a while, but I finally realized that was the point, joy isn’t smiling and laughing when things are going perfectly, that’s happiness. Joy is smiling and laughing when your whole world is crumbling down around you. Crazy, right? It’s not as crazy as it sounds, because we do have a reason to smile and laugh all the time and His name is Jesus Christ. God sent His son to die on the cross for you and me, and that weird person you stay away from and even that person that you really wish would just take a long vacation far away from you. That is why we should be joyful. That’s a very good reason, but also, because you don’t know about the person around you that may really need that smile or even where that smile could take you. I’ve always been told that laughter is the best medicine, but no one ever said you have to be happy to laugh; you just have to be joyful.

From puertorico.myadventures.org

More Articles in This Topic