"Than to enjoy delight with liberty
What more felicity can fall creature!"
These words of C. S. Lewis denote the place of joy in the hierarchy of delightul feelings. "...enjoy...What more felicity can fall creature!"
The most frequently used words to describe feelings of delight are satisfaction, pleasure and happiness.
While pleasure is more cheerful, and involves a more favorable orientation than satisfaction, happiness is more delightful and usually last longer than pleasure, but all these tend to be enjoyable for a short duration. Soon they become like salt that has lost its savor.
Happiness comes from temperament and favoring circumstance. It is a lesser thing than joy. Henry Sloane Coffin insightfully and in this picturesque way makes this distinction between happiness and joy:
"Happines is like the glint of sunlight
on the surface of a river; joy is like
the living current of the river, which
pours in its deep channel to sea."
Joy does not depend on circumstance. Joy has to be earned. A person has to choose joy, that is, a joy-centered attitude. While grace and favor are gift essentials in the joy experience, it is choosing an attitude of joy that activates and sustains joy in living.
Joy can be lost. Unlike satisfaction, pleasure and happiness which are inextricably linked to circumstance, joy is independent of and transcends circumstance. It is not easily wrested from a person. Usually when it is believed that a person has lost his joy, it is most likely that he did not have real joy. A person can have and maintain joy even when his suffering is great, and in good times and in bad times. Although differ in kind rather than degree, satisfaction, pleasure, happiness and joy are like ok, good, better and best, respectively.
While there can be happiness without joy there cannot be joy without happiness. A person possessed by joy feels blessed. Joy is acquired and maintained by a healthy attitude. Saying aloud and repeatedly daily this affirmation will help a person to maintain a joy-consciousness: "I have joy now!" Know that joy is the epitome of beauty now. John Keats reminds us that, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever."
Copyright 2009 by Uriah J. Fields