Bloomington / Normal, IL

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Happiness or Joy?


By Phil Bachman, Pastor/Life Coach, Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community

Each year, the Harris Poll assesses Americans’ happiness with a tool they call the Happiness Index. It is a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 representing complete happiness. Would you like to know how Americans ranked in Harris’ most recent poll? Drum roll please: Americans are a lousy 33 on the Happiness Scale!

Personally, I am not surprised by that number. Please excuse me for sounding trite, but “happiness” generally is based on what is “happening” to us and around us. In fact, the Harris Poll measured Americans’ happiness with questions about what was happening in their relationships, work, finances, etc. Generally speaking, if we are satisfied with our job, we feel happy. If our relationships are full of love and peace, we feel happy. When our favorite sports team is doing well, we feel happy. You get the idea.

Here’s the kicker: rarely, if ever, do any of us experience positive “happenings” simultaneously in all facets of life (for example, my wife and I just purchased our third refrigerator in the last six years!). If we just stop to think about it, it would be hard to imagine the Happiness Index ever going above 50!

My conviction is that we need to seek joy rather than happiness. Whereas happiness is based on what is happening, joy is an enduring contentment and calm in spite of what is happening. How do we experience it? Many people would say we experience it by having a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 15:13 states, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” On the night Jesus was born, do you remember what the angel announced? “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy for which will be for all the people.”

When we trust Jesus Christ and turn from sin, we are forgiven. God’s Spirit dwells in us, and our place in heaven is secured. At that point, no matter what is happening, something called joy remains and abounds. By God’s grace through faith, may we choose joy over happiness!

Meadows offers a full-range of senior living options — independent living, Independent Living —Plus!, assisted living, skilled nursing care, memory care, respite care, and Achieve! Wellness and Rehab Therapy — with two locations: Meadows Mennonite in Chenoa 309-747-3635 and Meadows at Mercy Creek in Normal 209-268-1501. To learn more about senior living options at Meadows, visit