"Joy is the serious business of heaven." - C. S. Lewis
I thought I'd begin this blog page with one of my absolute favorite things to talk about: joy. Joy is an underrated word. People often substitute the word happiness in its place, when really, the two are not synonyms at all.
Statistics experts say that about 30% of the American population consider themselves "happy", a rather depressing percentage if you ask me. However, I think if our world understood happiness and joy a little better, we all would be a lot more happy and joyful. Up until a few weeks ago, I considered happiness to be a destination. If I worked hard in school, put all my effort into projects and extracurriculars, did well on testing, got into a good college, got a good job, worked hard and got promoted, made money until I retired, retired and then...died? I thought I could conclude this plan of "if I do all this," with "then I will be happy". But the "ifs" never ended. I had my life planned out, but there was no stop for happiness along the way. It was quite honestly a very sobering thought. At this low point, I was quite convinced that I would never be happy. I was going to live my life like any average person, and someday die. Then the darker thought occurred to me which comes to all people at some point in their lives which is what on earth am I doing this all for?
If you were living like I was, if happiness was a distant attainment conditional on reaching certain goals, you are not living at all. For if one of those goals isn't reached, your entire foundation upon which your future happiness was based completely falls apart. And then what do you do next? Start over with new goals for happiness? But here's the thing, my friends, there is no certainty you will reach certain goals. By all means, give them everything you've got, but remember, these are goals, not certainties, which must force you to conclude that your happiness can never be a certainty.
Now if this was the only reality there was, all that remains is a pretty bleak outlook on life. But life doesn't have to be that way. And that's where joy comes in. You see, happiness is fleeting. It's uncertain, perhaps conditional. The happiness you achieve from eating an ice cream cone can only last so long before you forget about it entirely. The happiness you achieve from reaching a goal can't sustain you for an entire lifetime. It's the culmination of all these small happy moments that brings you something much deeper, joy. If there was one thing you could take away from this, it should be that happiness is temporary and joy is forever. Not everything you do makes you happy. But it's the motivation behind working, behind the struggles, the reason why you continue to struggle through the unpleasant things, that brings you joy. My personal motivation is my faith, and my faith brings me more joy than any unhappy moments could ever overpower. But everyone's motivation is different.
However, joy is a choice. There's not a lot of choice when it comes to happiness. Some things make us happy, some don't. But joy is a decision you make, it's a decision that allows you to search for the extraordinary, deeper underlying things in your life that make you absolutely joyful. It's a decision you make every day to find the joy in the little things, in the big things, in the sad things, in the happy things. And when you choose to make that decision, the joy you attain is forever.
You can choose to wait for happiness, to make it dependent on certain goals or aspirations. The reality of it is though, we don't know if we even have the time to wait to reach those goals. We never know when our time is up. It could be today, tomorrow, or in 100 years. If we don't choose joy now, we might never be happy. And who wants to live their lives without ever knowing happiness and eternal joy?