I remember when I was in the throes of my divorce, one of my co-workers said, “I know this is difficult. You deserve to be happy.” I thought, “Yea, she’s right. I do deserve to be happy!” I approached happiness like some kind of life achievement, like graduating from high school. I wanted to graduate from misery to happiness. I really expected that once getting through the hell of divorce, I would stay in a state of happiness for the rest of my life. I paid my dues, I got the t-shirt, and I deserved to wear it every day. Yet, the more I tried to achieve a constant state of happiness, the more fleeting it became. Some days I felt happy. Some days not. I was smiling on the outside, but deep down I was just not happy. I kept telling myself I was doing something wrong because I could never sustain the state of happiness the world (and my friends) told me I deserved.
I was doing something wrong. I was making my personal happiness my life’s goal. What I did not understand was that happiness is an emotion, and emotions can change like the weather. Happiness is life’s cotton candy. It is great for a while and then it is gone. It simply does not last forever. Well, if happiness doesn’t last forever, what does? It took me a few years and my share of discontentment until I discovered the answer: joy. Joy is not an emotion, but a state of being. (Better still, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.) Instead of being fleeting, it is enduring. It is a deep abiding peace that can never be taken away–no matter what is happening in your life. What is the source of joy? Jesus. As Catholics we are so blessed to have Jesus so readily available to us. We can find him in abundance in the Eucharist, and also in Scripture, Reconciliation, and in prayer. If you want more joy, get more Jesus in your life.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” – John 15:11