Happiness is something we all want and think we understand.
As children happiness comes naturally and is easy to recognize. It is measured in smiles and laughs, jumping, squealing, and hugs. Joy sees somehow less sought after. I think it’s often equated to happiness or considered an elated version of happiness and something we sing about at Christmas.
My youngest daughter has taught me that there is a real and distinct difference between happiness and joy. In utero, she was the most active mover. I nicknamed her hummingbird. (Recently we have been lovingly calling her hurricane.) As she grew from infant to toddler, though, she bubbled with joy. It wasn’t happiness, it was joy. I may have noticed it more with her since I’m sentimental about relishing the moments with our last little one. I’ve got no babies coming up behind her. I really think, though, that she has been blessed with an innate ability to be joyful.
Her joy is the infections kind. Just look at her with that lollipop. I remember this day, vividly. It’s the day I understood there was a true difference between happiness and joy.
It was time to redo our family photo. Everyone had grown up so much since the last. I ended up booking with this awesome photographer. It was the first time I had done it this way. Prior to this, we went and got the stiff ones made at Sears. Boy that sounds antiquated. It really wasn’t that long ago. The photographer was great and kind and patient with us and the four girls. Not only did we get a family picture but each of the girls had their own photoshoot. BONUS! It didn’t cost much more than we used to pay at Sears. We all had fun with it.
As you can see, Natalie was not quite two and a half. She was still an active hummingbird and she was still a toddler. She was growing tired of taking pictures and waiting. In a desperate attempt for a smile, I reached into my purse and grabbed a lollipop for her. Thank goodness I stuck lollipops into my purse! Her favorite thing in the world was a lollipop. When we opened it up and gave it to her she relished her own moment. She took that sucker and enjoyed the heck out of it. You can see the joy in her face as she lifted that lollipop up.
I treasure the picture.s It’s a reminder to me that joy is almost tangible. It’s a moment that can be pin pointed or spontaneous, instigated or a surprise, and remembered. Joy can penetrate sadness.
To us, happiness is the feeling resulting from experiencing joy. Happiness is the emotional outcome felt in a moment and realized in retrospect. Joy doesn’t seem significant in the moment though it is enjoyable. However, string it together and the more moments of joy a person experiences, the happier they are. Collective moments of joy is happiness.
Joy is the reason anyone is happy which means that everyone can be happy. If joy is tangible then we can reach for it. We only need to recognize it and relish it. We need to claim the moment to collect it. I want to look back and realize my happiness. I want to string my moments of joy together? Do you? Let’s travel this journey together.