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Where do happiness and joy come from?

20 July 2020 | Brussels, Belgium [Maja Ahac]  

One of the most important decisions you will make in your life is the decision about happiness and joy. What we usually hear is that each of us needs to pursue happiness because this is the true meaning and purpose of life.

Happiness is traditionally very much linked to the external environment and to circumstances you do not influence over – for example weather (sunshine or rain), time (weekend or working days), other people (good or bad mood of your co-workers, presence or absence of your loved ones), …. Happiness is something that happens to you and you have very little or zero influence over. When pursuing happiness you focus on weekends and you live for vacation, you might even develop dependence over a person (you feel empty and sad when he or she is not around, your self-worth depends on the good evaluation made by your superior), sunshine makes you happy and when there is rain you feel sad, and soon. This kind of experience leads to insecurity, fear, emptiness.

On the other side, there is joy. And surprisingly – you can choose joy. Joy is a state of mind. You choose to be joyful regarding the external environment, people or circumstances. “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” (R. Warren)

For some people, true happiness, joy, and life-satisfaction come from living life based on clear values and purpose. These people experience joy regardless of circumstances. One of them recently shared this experience with me: “During the last ten years, my professional life has changed a lot. God’s purpose for my life became clearer, events that followed changed me. But change was not always positive. Somehow, I was bitter and angry. I decided to not allow any external circumstances or people to shape me into something I do not choose to be. I decided to bring joy back into my life. I dreamed of living a fuller life in (and with) God. What was helping me along the way, were traffic signs in the form of my core values: love, wisdom, inspiration, courage, and kindness. They are keeping me on the right road and are directing my path in the right direction. I chose the courageous life of serving humanity over the comfort of seeking false pleasures. I’m pushed way out of my comfort zone, but I experience true meaning, purpose and joy.”

As advocates for the well-being of people, we lead the change from who we are, and from a strong sense of the purpose that is much bigger than our life.

Maja Ahac is Head of Advocacy at ADRA Europe.
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Used with permission from ADRA Europe. 


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