Cultivating joy in your life

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To some people, the terms joy and happiness are interchangeable. Although they are synonyms in the grammatical sense, many people experience them very differently.


Happiness, by definition, is a temporary feeling, a momentary or fleeting emotion. The root of the word -- hap, means 'chance,' and is thought to derive from the term happenstance, which means 'a circumstance that is due to chance.' This suggests you should fully appreciate happy moments as they may be fleeting. Take the time and make the effort to revel in happiness and be grateful for the different people, experiences, and sensations that make you feel this way.


On the other hand, joy is considered a state of well-being, something that can be appreciated throughout your lifetime. Joy is often found in faith. It's often experienced when you have faith in your path and future. Joy is the root word of rejoice. We are reminded of the importance of joy in our lives by several Bible scriptures including:

John 15:11 -- "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

Philippians 4:4 -- "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Psalm 13:5-6 -- "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord's praise, for he has been good to me."

Cultivating joy

Joy is abundant, contagious, and easily shared. Cultivating it is as simple as surrounding yourself with wonderful people and who encourage you to delight in what brings you joy.

Three tips to bring more joy into your life:

Keep a Joy Journal -- Some people also call it a daily gratitude list. When you establish a habit of gratitude, you're sure to experience more joy in your daily life.

Perform Selfless Acts -- Joy is selfless, not self-centered. Get involved in community service or volunteer to make the world a better place by helping those in need. Reach out to support a family member. Bake a casserole for an ill neighbor. Donate gently used clothing to a shelter. Give freely and allow your joy to extend into the lives of those around you.

Slow Down and Appreciate the Little Things -- Stop and smell the flowers. Savor your meal. Take the time to enjoy a beautiful day. Appreciate the change of season and fall colors.

"Everyone has their own definitions of what happiness and joy mean to them personally, but the difference is fundamental," says Kathleen Kelleher, director of mission and spiritual care at the Assisted Living Residences of Youville House in Cambridge, Mass., and Youville Place in Lexington, Mass. "Happiness comes from what is happening around us, while joy comes from within us."

About Covenant Health

Families looking for skilled nursing, assisted living and other senior care may wish to consider one of Covenant Health's Care communities located in the Archdiocese of Boston:

Brockton -- St. Joseph Manor Health Care, 215 Thatcher Street --

Cambridge -- Youville House Assisted Living Residences, 1573 Cambridge Street --

Haverhill -- Penacook Place, 150 Water Street -- 978-374-0707 --

Lawrence -- Mary Immaculate Health/Care Services, 172 Lawrence Street --

Mary Immaculate Nursing and Restorative Center

Marguerite's House Assisted Living

Lexington -- Youville Place Assisted Living Residences, 10 Pelham Road --

Waltham -- Maristhill Nursing and Rehab Center, 66 Newton Street --