Once when I was in Sunday School the teacher told us that the difference between happiness and joy was that happiness depends on your circumstances but joy comes from God. I was not the only one in the class to question that analysis. It looked to me as just an example of a word game, namely changing the definition of a word to fit one’s own preconceptions. This also was right about that time that I decided that going to Sunday School was a total waste of my time.

But that does leave the question, what is joy, and where does it come from?

Here is what that Sunday School teacher would call the “worldly” definition:

joy |joi|nounfeeling of great pleasure and happiness : tears of joy | the joy of being alive.a thing that causes joy : the joys of Manhattan.(from the Dictionary app on my MacBook)

Of course, knowing a dictionary definition does not tell you what it’s like to experience joy. Here are the times and places where I experience joy:

  • When perfectly balanced and poised in Utthita Trikonasana (or a number of other yoga poses.)
  • Yesterday when I was doing underwater back-flips in the pool with Taylor.
  • When playfully chasing my puppy around the house.
  • When reading or studying and finding out a new and fascinating fact or perspective I never knew before.
  • When gazing at a wildflower and checking whether the stem is fuzzy or smooth, and how many petals it has, and what the leaves look like so I can identify it in a field guide later.
  • When alone and snuggling with my Sweetheart.

Generally, when I experience joy is when I am totally in the present moment, and not concerned with happened in the past or what will happen in the future. It’s not so much concerned with my circumstances as it is with my state of mind in that moment.

Joy is a state of mind. It comes from within, and could not come from anywhere else.