One might consider happiness and joy to be synonymous as they both evoke feelings of positive energy. However, as we give deeper thought to happiness versus joy, we can see that the two words, while bringing about positive feelings, come from different sources.
Pleasing self is the source of happiness and comes from outward resources. It is a temporary feeling. I am most happy when I have a chocolate cake in front of me and no limitations as to how much I may consume. I am happy until I eat the entire cake and suddenly come to my senses realizing how many calories the cake contained. Once this realization enters my mind, I am on the next search to fix my unhappiness for eating the chocolate cake. We can easily achieve happiness as long as there is an outside source stroking self. However, happiness is short lived and requires constant searching.
True joy on the other hand is more difficult to achieve than happiness as it requires dying minute by minute to our selfish desires and giving to the needs of others. In these sacrificial acts, our hearts are warmed and content. The quest for joy can include suffering, trials and tribulations as Habakkuk expressed. It can exist within a person even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Joy comes when we take our eyes off of ourselves and live sacrificially by giving to others, keeping our eyes and hearts turned toward God, our creator. Even in the darkest trials we can experience joy if we choose.
Habakkuk Rejoices in the Lord
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 God, the Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.