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Is Joy the Same as Happiness? 10 Things to Know about This Fruit of the Spirit

Is Joy the Same as Happiness? 10 Things to Know about This Fruit of the Spirit

Theologian Miroslav Volf, who has written books on subjects ranging from the Trinity to the challenges of reconciliation in divided societies, has turned to what might seem like a frivolous subject: joy.

But Volf, 61, the leader of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, says studying the theology of joy with students and scholars is “hard work."

He spoke with Religion News Service about the difference between joy and happiness, biblical lessons on joy and how the average person can find joy.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/beerphotograph

Seeking Fulfillment through Christ

Seeking Fulfillment through Christ

According to new data from the General Social Survey, Americans are more unhappy than we’ve been in half a century. In 1972, people who said they were “very happy” outnumbered those who said they were “not too happy” by about three-to-one. In 2021, that all changed: now the latter outnumber the former by 5 percent. One of the keys to finding fulfillment in a society that produces emptiness is to look to its one true source, Jesus.

Regularly Expressing Gratitude Can Increase Your Happiness

Regularly Expressing Gratitude Can Increase Your Happiness

As our society continues its post-Christian slide into secularism, holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas have become secularized as well. One can go the entire Christmas season without seeing a mention of Christ’s birth in secular culture; Thanksgiving has become far less about gratitude to God and far more about football and feasting. Thus we should not be surprised when even gratitude becomes generically secularized. But we should not overlook the illogic of this trajectory nor the power of thanksgiving when it is properly directed.

Why Doesn't Success Satisfy the Soul?

Why Doesn't Success Satisfy the Soul?

Most of us understand that money can buy the best mattress, but it can’t guarantee sleep. Why do millionaires, movie stars and top entertainers often turn to spirituality, drugs and alcohol for the answers if success satisfies? Many discover that money, fame and recognition are not the answers. CEOs, presidents and vice presidents frequently admit that they are happy when they reach production goals, but very unhappy when under budget, largely because they measure happiness by what’s happening to them. When things go well, they’re happy, when things go poorly, they’re unhappy. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t be productive, but if happiness is measured by our circumstances, it’s going to be a very rough road.

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