April 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Personal N*Powerment

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Ask anyone, “what do you want out of life?” and most would say, “I just want to be happy.” But what is this happiness that everyone is always chasing?  America was founded on the premise of the “pursuit of happiness” but like any good hunt, once it’s over, the question everyone leaves wondering is, “what now?”

To me, happiness is a temporary feeling of achievement or accomplishment. It’s the “Yes!” feeling of success. It’s the emotion we experience just after we do something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time, purchased something that we really wanted to buy or gotten somewhere that we’ve been trying to go.  That feeling is great and we should want to feel that way often, but it’s a feeling that can’t be sustained because happiness, like all emotions, is fleeting. Immediately after we feel “happy” we are looking for something to make us “happy” again and that means if we aren’t happy–we’re sad. And for most people–especially teens, that sad feeling is being misinterpreted as boredom or depression. Hence, we are a nation addicted to Prozac and other mood altering drugs because everybody is looking for ways to be happy.

I think we should stop trying to be happy and start trying to be joyful.

Joy, unlike happiness, is constant. Being joyful is  not a feeling; it is a state of being. It isn’t how you feel; it’s who you are. It isn’t the pursuit of  a feeling. It’s having contentment in your heart and knowing that it is yours. Joyfulness comes from knowing that you are on a path to creating the life you want to live. It is knowing that you are in control of the way you react to the world. Being joyful is knowing that even in the face of challenge and adversity, we can still have faith and courage and not be depressed because nothing stays the same forever. Being joyful is having confidence in the fact that you will succeed because your goals are worth pursuing and that you will accomplish them in time. The most beautiful thing about joy is that we can be joyful even when things go wrong because we know they will go right again….eventually.

You can’t be happy when you’re sad, but you can be sad and still joyful.

The  problem with happiness is that we don’t own it and we can’t control it. We  can hold it for a moment but it can be gifted to us or stolen from us. When someone cuts you off in traffic or skips you on a line or does something to annoy you, your happiness goes right out the window. You’re pissed. You’re peeved. You’re ticked off. Your happiness card has been snatched from you and placed into that person’s back pocket and like a good magic trick, you didn’t even see when it happened. On the flip side, happiness can be given to us. When someone does something nice for us, or compliments us or is otherwise thoughtful or considerate of our feelings how do we feel? Happy. He sent me flowers–I’m so happy. She likes my dress–I’m so happy. Look what at this nice present I just received in the mail–I’m so happy. The happiness card is pulled out from behind your ears as if was there the entire time. And who was in control of the trick? Not you.

Joy, however, belongs to us. We posses our joy and nothing that anyone does can change it because it comes from within. We don’t have to chase it because it is already inside of us. We don’t have to worry about protecting it because no one can take it. We don’t have to try to go out and get it by doing anything, having anything or being anything. It is the essence of who we are simply because we exist. We just need to acknowledge it and claim it.

Should we want to be happy? Yes, I love the happy feeling. I do things to make myself feel happy and I love when others make me feel happy, but I don’t fool myself into thinking that happiness can be “had” because it can’t. Like a beautiful sunset, we can experience it, but then it’ll be gone. Luckily, we can be joyful about the fact that we will experience many more.

How do we find our joy if we can’t remember where we put it? More on that next time.

In the meantime, go out there and Be Remarkable!


6 Responses to “Happiness?–Forgettaboutit!”
  1. sonya johnson says:

    Oh gosh Ms. James this is so true! You have uplifted my spirits this morning. Thanks :)

  2. Kathleen Sokolowski says:

    Such wisdom! This was a great post. I think that so many times we overlook things that we already have that would bring us joy- a beautiful morning sky, the smell of coffee brewing in the morning, the chubby hands of a baby….in the rush to accomplish goals and obtain what we think will make us “happy”, we miss all the little day to day things that would bring us joy. Thanks for a great post that reminds me of this….

  3. Very well said. There is very litle that I can add to your definition and differentiation of “joy” and “happiness” except to add that when we want to make others happy we experience joy. I’m happy when I can be a blessing to others and that keeps me in a constant state of joy.

    I promise myself daily that I would not let anyone steal my joy, thereforo I refuse to allow the actions of other people set my tone for the day, or affect my feelings. I refuse to give ANYONE power over me so I consider myself and Npowered woman.

  4. Dianne Bosquet says:

    Woowwww that’s a really deep analysis on happiness but true.
    I think that life is full of joyful things that bring us some
    kind of happiness. However because life is stressful and constantly moving
    We forget to take a step back and embrace happiness. As remarkable women
    it is our duty and full obligation to find, embrace and enjoy our happiness because
    I believe that happiness is a significant part of being the remarkable women that
    we should be. :)

  5. Amrita says:

    “I love when others make me feel happy, but I don’t fool myself into thinking that happiness can be “had” because it can’t. Like a beautiful sunset, we can experience it, but then it’ll be gone.”

    -So true! Love this post. Thanks!