Thursday, September 3, 2015

Happiness 01: The Journey Begins

Someone asked me recently, “Dallas, are you happy?

Cue the crickets.

My response stuck in my throat, and I couldn't give them a trite, "Yes." Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer the question. It led to a larger, existential questioning of life, of self, of purpose, et al.

What is happiness?

That question has led me toward a greater quest - to discover what true happiness means.

Is happiness the same as joy? Is it the same as contentment? Is it a general feeling of delight toward life? Is it determined by circumstances, or is a state that exists regardless of circumstances? The dictionary uses all of those words (joy, contentment, delight, etc.) to define "Happy," but I'm not sure they're all the same.

For me, joy seems to be the high points of life - those moments of elation. Joy seems momentary. Fleeting. Temporary. Joy seems to be the response to exciting, joy-inducing circumstances. Happiness, on the other hand, seems to be a more steadfast state. It seems, to me, to be closer to contentment. A more elevated form of contentment, perhaps, but closer to that. Contentment is a state of general satisfaction, and happiness seems to be the higher form of that.

I'm not saying that this is the very definition of happiness. I'm just trying to discover what true happiness is. After all, that person is still waiting for me to answer them. HaHa!

I'd like to hear what you think. Two questions: (1) What do you think true happiness is? (2) By that definition, are you happy?

Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to share with others. I'd like to keep the conversation going.


  1. For me, true happiness and joy are linked together, inseparable.
    As a follower of Jesus who's life has been transformed and set free from myself I experience joy on a daily basis. Some days more then others. I am happy, although you may not know it by looking at the outside of me. But inside me is an explosive hope and faith that fuels this joy. :)

    1. Dan, I'm glad you feel that joy on a day-in-day-out basis. I would say that, for me, joy is much more of an occasional "high point," while daily happiness is something that is much more of a journey. Thanks for your comments, though!

  2. I like both definitions but I think you have the wrong words with wrong definitions. In my opinion happiness and sadness are fleeting emotions but joy is a state of being. A wise man once wrote, "Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me." Paul did not say for the happiness in Christ. Hebrews 12:2 say for the joy set before Christ he endured the cross. Definitions are great but I would flip flop the words. Great article!

    1. That's good stuff, David. Thanks for sharing. I can see where you're coming from in the flip-flop of definitions. As I said to Dan, joy still feels more like the occasional "high point" that is overflowing, whereas happiness is a life-feeling. Good stuff for me to ponder, though. Author Tal Ben-Sharar calls the search for happiness the "question of questions," so stay tuned --- there is definitely more to come with these posts.