What is the difference between joy and happiness?

January 24, 2011 — 28 Comments
difference between joy and happiness

For most people, the only difference between joy and happiness is their dictionary meaning.  A lot of people equate joy with happiness.  The problem is, there’s a huge difference between the two!

The difference between joy and happiness:

  • Happiness is based on circumstances but joy is based on the Lord.
  • Happiness is like the moon, waxing and waning.  Joy is like the sun, always shining even when night falls or clouds cover it.
  • Happiness is like a kiss; joy a golden wedding anniversary.
  • Happiness is born in the mind; joy is born in the heart.
  • Happiness comes from humans; joy comes from God.
  • Happiness is like exchanging Christmas gifts; joy is the awareness of what Christmas is all about.

Can you see the difference? Joy is so much more than happiness!  Joy makes us different.

Joyful people think differently. They don’t allow negative thoughts to occupy their minds. They not going to let the cares of the world still their joy.

Joyful people act differently. Their attitude is different – it is positive. Their behaviour is different – it is God honouring. Their speech is different – it us uplifting.

Joyful react differently. They don’t respond harshly but encourage lovingly. They encourage not discourage. They build up, not tear down.

As a third-century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend:

“It’s a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians–and I am one of them.”

God wants us to have a life of joy!

Are you living a life of joy?

Kevin Martineau

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I am the Pastor at Port Hardy Baptist Church on Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I am married to my best friend and I have three beautiful daughters.

28 responses to What is the difference between joy and happiness?

  1. Yes, I choose joy! Thank you, Kevin.

  2. Hey Kevin,

    It was a "joy" to read your post.

    Although your point is joy is better than happiness, I had a great saying about happiness.

    Happines is the self realization of being in the process of accomplishing a worthwhile goal,

    Thanks for the info.


  3. Hi Guy:

    I think we use the words happiness and joy interchangeable a lot of the time. In regards to your quote I would say that is joy. :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. I was just reading Rick Warren's book when he mentioned about the difference between Joy and Happiness. :-) It's a timely one, and it's funny how we are so tempted to chase after 'external' happiness rather than 'inner' joy. True joy can help immensely not just within our own lives, but to others around us as well. Great message shared, Kevin.

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  5. You are right Ching Ya, joy is definitely beneficial to those around us.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Joy is when you have not only you ore the next person in mind but after-life in spirit body and soul

  7. Joy ploughs right through whatever may be happening around. Joy flows through trouble, through what should be dark and lonely moments, through what should, essentially, cause despair, it flows through the day and through the night, not waiting to come in the morning…it is a lasting fountain springing forth in the heart…
    I see why the joy of the Lord is my strength…

  8. This message has somehow given me hope.God is always in control with our situations.I may never understand why it happened to me and my family , but one thing is for sure, while i am riding my lifeboat and cruising down storms in life.

  9. thanks for the encouragement; to me, joyful people are happy people; you cannot separate one from the other. When you have the ‘JOY OF THE LORD’ inside of you, nothing and no one can stop you from being happy, its HIS spirit that bubbles inside of you and forces you to re-focus where the energy is coming from.

    • I agree with you that joyful people are happy people. The big difference for me is that I can still be joyful even while in grief and difficult times because my joy comes from my relationship with God and it is not based on my circumstances.

  10. Joy is not the absence of sorrow,but the presence of God.

  11. I’ve been thinking about joy this week; I think Joy is like happiness with added hope, grace and gratitude. It’s just like your analogy of happiness being like a first kiss and joy like celebrating a golden wedding anniversary still in love :-)

  12. Joy, you can’t have a good life without it. Jesus came that we might have life filled with an abundance of joy, peace and harmony. Joy is truly felt when we appreciate all that He’s provided and all that He’s withheld… When you remind yourself that He meant it all for our good, joy is inevitable.

  13. Too true, I definitley choose JOY. I will add this though, I think that Joy is also; is a Godly Love like fountain, bubbling on the inside ready to be shared and reflected on the outside. Joy is raddiant and always beaming through ones eyes, face, lefestle and those around always reap thebenefits.


  14. Joy is important for our life happiness could come when things gone well in ur life

  15. Joy is sustaining because its roots are of the spirit– happiness is fleeting.

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