Stop Chasing Happiness and Start Cultivating Joy

From the Desk of: Work/Life Balance Relationship Coach Vanessa Long
Newmarket, Ontario
Monday, 3:20 p.m.
To: Seekers, Entrepreneurs, Heart-Centred Women Looking to Build a Life of Joy

Stop Chasing Happiness and 
Start Cultivating Joy

3 Ways to Let Go of the Struggle and
Step into Joy's Embrace

I've been thinking a lot lately about the difference between happiness and joy and how each of them can be brought into our lives in an intentional and planned way.

Find Your Inner Joy

Which kind of bothers me… I mean, should we have to plan for and work at happiness and joy? Shouldn't we just be able to sit back and let happiness and joy come to us?

I don't know about you, but I do know about my own experience and that of my clients, and, really, it hasn't worked so well hoping that joy and happiness will just happen.

What has worked well is learning the difference between joy and happiness and creating ways to bring more of both of them into our lives – and being open to receiving them. Without some effort on our parts to create a space for happiness and joy to happen, then we tend to get too busy to relax enough to feel anything other than stress.

Use these 3 methods to create more joy and happiness in your life.

1. Learn the Difference Between Joy and Happiness

Happiness comes from the Hebrew root word 'ashar' and means "to be set right, to be blessed." It is an emotional state caused by our perception of external circumstances.

When good things happen, I feel happy. The flip side of this thought, is that when bad things happen, or even when good things aren't actively happening, I don't feel happy. Perhaps I even feel sad.

Happiness comes and goes and is dependent on what is happening around me.

Joy is connected back through the word rejoice to the Greek word 'chara' (root: xar-). Chara is defined as an awareness of God's received grace, thus, joy is grace recognized.

So, joy is also a feeling, like happiness, an emotional state. Which means that it will ebb and flow, just like happiness.

However, there is also a crucial difference between joy and happiness: Happiness is dependent on external circumstances while joy is dependent on internal circumstances.

Something good has to happen in my world for me to feel happiness but for me to feel joy I simply need to be grateful for the grace that I have received. I have to be aware that the universe loves and supports me.

That isn't always easy, and it's something that many of us have never felt, but at least it is something I can control. It is a skill, a habit, that I can cultivate. I cannot control life and the lives of everyone around me – some days will be better or worse than others and that will influence my happiness. I will experience happiness and pain.

But I can control my mind and heart. I can cultivate an attitude of gratitude and an awareness of grace. And so can you.

2. Plan for Happiness

One of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves is to open space for happiness to enter. I mentioned before that most of us are so busy running our lives (and the lives of everyone around us!) that we don't often have time to have fun and pleasure and relaxation. We don't gift ourselves with happiness.

Start now.

Open up your calendar (paper or electronic) and book an appointment with yourself to have fun. In the next 3 days. You can totally do it. You deserve it.

If you find yourself staring at the page, not knowing what to write down that's what I like to call 'a clue'. It's okay, many of us don't know what we think is fun anymore. Book the appointment anyway! We'll figure it out later.

Have you booked it? Good! 

Okay, now, make a list of 10 things you could do that you think would be fun. Then choose one, and use that one for your date with yourself. As you think of more ways to make yourself happiness, add them to your list.

Plan for happiness by consciously scheduling happy moments into your life – build up a stockpile of good feeling that can start to shift the weight that you're carrying about having 'a very serious life.' Instead of chasing happiness, relax into it and enjoy it by scheduling it and having moments to look forward to every week.

3. Live in Gratitude

The third method for bringing more joy into your life is to keep a gratitude journal. This is one of the most powerful tools that I know of to start shifting your mindset to cultivate that inner awareness of grace that is a key part of joy.

By writing down at least 5 things you are grateful for each day, you will start to notice how the universe takes care of you and how much there is to be grateful for. And how much you are loved. I have an entire article on Gratitude Journals here. You can use that to get you started.

So, what do you think? Have you been chasing happiness? Can you see the value in thinking about joy and happiness in this different way and consciously working to bring them into your life? I'd love to hear about it.

If you have any questions, let me know. I'm here to support you on your journey.