Happiness vs. Joy

There may be a few ways to look at happiness vs. joy and maybe this will add value to their distinctions. Happiness is generally determined by what is happening to us or even an accumulation of good or bad events or circumstances. Joy is completely different. It is determined by what we choose.

It is a fruit of the Spirit and the Holy Spirit, in a Christian, is always producing this fruit.

When you ask someone if they are happy, the happy person says something like, "I feel good, things are going well, there haven't been any emergencies, my relationships are going well." The unhappy person says, "I haven't felt good, things are not going great, I've had a few emergencies and relationships have been tough." These are all external influences.

Joy, for the Christian, is internal. It is a fruit of the Spirit and the Holy Spirit, in a Christian, is always producing this fruit. It's our job to get in on it. The barrier for doing this, comes from thinking we are the source of joy and we have to go outside of ourselves to get it.

The Old Man or The New Man

The scriptures describe two natures within the born again Christian. They have a few different names and traits that will probably be familiar.

The Old Man | The New Man
The Old Nature | A New Nature
The Flesh | The Spirit
The World | The Mind of Christ
Slave to Sin | Slave to Christ
Death | Life and Peace
Mind Set On Fleshly Desires | Mind Set On What The Spirit Desires
Old Things Have Passed Away | All Things Have Become New

All things have become new. The place where we find the biggest impact of "all things being new" is in our thinking. Thinking is the mechanism of our transformation in Christ. It's a whole new world of how one thinks. When it comes to walking in the fruit of the Spirit, it's a choice to walk in that fruit.

The confusion comes from thinking that says, you either feel great and have the joy of the Lord or you feel terrible and do not have the joy of the Lord. That is completely untrue. We actually have both at the same time.

Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. 2 Corinthians 6:10 NLT

As we grow in the Lord we learn to put our attention on joy, in the midst of frustration, anger and confusion. We are tasked with choosing to focus on the joy that the Spirit is producing, in those moments. It can be tough to do in the beginning but this process builds the fortitude necessary to fully carry out our ministry.

Take a quick read of, Count the Cost and Galvanize Your Heart, for more on this transformative process.

Choosing Joy Illustrated

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice! - Philippians 4:4 NLT
What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way. - Luke 6:22-23 NLT
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. - Romans 5:3 NLT
Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. - Romans 12:12 NLT
So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. - 2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT

Pursue Joy

Since joy is something that we actively choose, the new disciple will have trouble walking in that joy. It's a different way of thinking that has to be taught and then done on purpose. It's not something that happens to us. It must be pursued. It's a process that Paul referred to as, "training yourself to be godly."


Take Action!

How do I train myself to walk in the joy of the Lord? 
It's important to note that we do not produce joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It comes from the Holy Spirit and is always present in us. We just need to practice getting in on it. 
Again, a big help in understanding this process is the article, Galvanize Your Heart
When we get frustrated, angry or down we don't want to suppress those feelings. They are real but not coming from your new nature. Instead, focus on the joy that the Holy Spirit produces in you and don't waste your time on emotions of your old nature. 
With practice, your emotions will submit to your thinking, which is the product of choosing joy. 

The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living. - Psalm 19:8 NLT 

Here are additional resources to help develop your strategy: 

Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength! - Nehemiah 8:10 NLT

Please, add your thoughts in the comment section.



“Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and exists along with bad feelings. Therefore, choose joy.”

In The Cool Zone concept. Think like Jesus thinks. Deliver the Gospel. Teach what you have learned.

In The Cool Zone and More Life in My Day are sister websites dedicated to discipleship. They work in tandem, providing the teaching and coaching for growing in the Lord and becoming effective in our walk with the Lord. 


  1. I need to remind myself that happiness and joy are not the same and that joy is always with us because it is part of the fruit of the spirit and the spirit is in us. Get control of your thinking by choosing joy and not react in your emotions.


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