The Uphill Slide

There is always something.




Feeling happy.



What is the word to describe it? What is it? It’s  joy. Why not just happiness? Psychology Today says the description for happiness is elusive. Or is it happiness that is elusive? It comes and goes with accompaniments of other feelings. A thousand people might describe it a thousand different ways. It’s easy to make a list of things that make us happy. But to explain why is much harder.

A blog post from Randy Alcorn writing on eternal perspectives ministries opined that happiness and joy are not different though he writes that many others disagree. Difficult definitions with differing opinions. I agreed that they are not contrasting. Joy is more specific and intense but embraced into happiness. How can I describe joy? As with happiness, I can give you examples and try to explain why. And I will fail. You could say, “There’s no joy in that.”

Joy when:

I put together the puzzle of my life. I’m self-aware. I’m a learner.

I go to class and add my two cents. I’m part of a group.

I ride the bus and hear “Stop requested.” I’m part of a community.

I see a magnificent flower bed. I’m part of the natural world.

I see a cat digging in someone’s raised flower bed.  We have different purposes.

I stand in front of the same painting of women dancing on every visit to the coffee shop. I am sharing something with a stranger.

Happiness seems soft and gentle. A huge ball that has other little balls. Maybe I claimed that vision from Inside Out. Joy is like the water rushing over my car at the car wash. It’s like standing on the ground being shielded by the starry sky. Joy’s an onslaught. It’s the sudden burst of acceleration to pass.

And I could never have known happiness or joy without the accompaniment of anger and rage and depression and frustration and defeat. But most of the time those emotions will become tempered. You can’t know one emotion without understanding the opposition. The time for those ‘negative’ emotions can seem interminably never-ending. They will pass unless you get mired like quicksand. Time and perspective. Insight and self-awareness are the way out. You can feel happy and sad without fear of contradiction. And you can feel joy. I love feeling joy. It can just pop up at the most unexpected times.

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