Everyone experiences joy, but some experience it more than others. The difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is contentment or a good feeling, whereas joy is more of a state of being, is felt deeply, and often not even by choice. Joy is evoked by something powerful within yourself, is PART of yourself, whereas happiness can be temporary and easily affected by outside events or circumstances. For example, hanging out with my sister or getting to see her makes me happy; my sister moving back to where I live after being on the other side of the country for 15 years brings me joy.
Joy is also measured by the depths of your sorrow. I wouldn't feel joy at my sister's return had I not missed her living here so much. As Kahlil Gibran explains it:
"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight..."
This helps to explain why it is that sometimes people who have gone through some really nasty shit in life are also some of the most joyful people we know. The character of Maude, in the movie "Harold and Maude" comes to mind, as she was carefree, joyful, and spirited despite having endured World War II and being in a concentration camp.
So what is it that brings you joy? And how, if at all, is your joyfulness connected to your spirituality or personal religious path? One of my greatest joys is nature, which is of course deeply connected to my being Pagan. Seeing the breathtaking acres of lavender and sunflowers in the South of France, looking up into the night sky and finding the constellation Scorpio, or picking a perfect, fragrant rose off of our bush fills me with joy. Art also makes me joyful. I'll never forget how I felt the first time I stood in front of an authentic Van Gogh painting or walked through a garden of bronze statues by Rodin. Oh, and good food, of all kinds, definitely brings me joy. Makes my world go 'round, more like. And of course, like anyone, there are people who have been in my life or who are currently in it who bring me joy just by existing.
Once in awhile I will dream of something or someone I treasured that has been lost to me, and my heart leaps at seeing it/them again, only to sink when I awaken and realize that it is "not real." However, like Gibran pointed out, these kinds of experiences are probably what help me to feel greater joy in what IS real (at least right now), and I cherish them both. Memories, after all, can also bring joy.
Feel free to comment below on your own joys. I would love to hear about them!