Content, Happy Or Joyful?

A blog post with lots of questions to reflect on today.

I think we can be content and comfortable with ourselves, on our own. But I wonder whether we can be truly happy and joyful?

As a thought experiment, would be happy if we were to live the whole of our lives inside an empty, plain room with nothing to see or do. (We would not feel hunger, thirst or physical pain) Would we be happy?

I think we could be content. There are people who are called to the single life, who can be content with themselves and on their own. I think these people can also be happy. But that happiness comes from external stimulus.

Returning to the thought experiment, I don’t think we could be happy in the empty room because our happiness is influenced by the external. It can be generated, but only from external stimuli. Can we think ourselves happy?

The world provides us with sources of happiness. I don’t believe work, travel, food, drink or hobbies (on their own) are sources of joy, but they can be sources of pleasure and happiness.

Joy is something else. It transcends the temporary. It can be present in difficult times, whereas happiness cannot. Joy must be cultivated and comes from our relationships with other people and other things. Can we only find joy with others or when we’re living our unique calling (vocation)?

How would you define contentment, happiness and joy? Which one have you experienced this past week? How will you cultivate joy this week?