What is the difference between Joy and Happiness especially for us Catholics?

If I look these words up they give me a mammoth answer and they appear similar.

For me the distinction is between the temporal and the eternal.

Happiness is the emotion I feel when something good happens, when life is going well, when I’m doing something fun, etc.

Joy is the peace that comes from knowing God and living according to His word. It’s what comes from separating myself from the troubles for the world and recognizing that I have an eternal home with Him. (Assuming I keep living according to His word.) It’s like the next step up from happiness, and doesn’t get taken away just because things in life aren’t going great.


For me, happiness is fleeting and relates to everyday things.

Joy is constant, and comes from knowing and loving God despite whatever setbacks, sadness and troubles come in life.

I would say that people can have Joy even when they are unhappy about how things are going in their life.


I think they can be used interchangeably, but most people think of joy as being more of a general outlook on life, which for a Catholic can be rooted in love of God. I remember that St. Seraphim of Sarov greeted everyone with the words “My joy!” or “My joy, Christ is risen!” depending on which source you read.

1 Like

Ok, I am not a native speaker so I may be wrong. I think about happiness as a good feeling, kind of a natural reaction to a pleasant event (ie. I see my friend for a coffee after a long time, I feel happy to spend some time together). I think about joy as something more deep, a status of the soul that knows about the love of God no matter what, it is more like a deep sense of peace (ie.the day is not going so great but I know that my life has a meaning and a purpose in God so I don’t despair. I keep hope alive on earth and I hope also in eternal life).



joy (n.) c. 1200, “feeling of pleasure and delight;” c. 1300, “source of pleasure or happiness,” from Old French joie “pleasure, delight, erotic pleasure, bliss, joyfulness” (11c.)

happiness (n.) 1520s, “good fortune,” from happy + -ness. Meaning “pleasant and contented mental state” is from 1590s.

1 Like

Joy and happiness are sometimes used interchangeably.

The difference between joy and pleasure is that pleasure doesn’t last beyond the activity that is producing it. Eat a pizza and you feel pleasure; stop eating a pizza and you stop feeling pleasure. Joy is a constant because it is founded on metaphysical truths (God loves us; God is beautiful; we are created for Heaven; good triumphs over evil; the gates of hell will not overcome the Church, etc). Joy is preceded by faith, which is preceded by God’s grace.


Read Fr Spitzers book. “Four Levels of Happiness”

Joy is level 1. Shortest, most intense. Not satisfying for long.
Fr Bob says it is the plate of linguini.
Level 2 is happiness from appreciation of who you are, what you have done/are doing,

1 Like

Joy can exist even while experiencing suffering, happiness cannot.


They appear to relate… yet they’re different…

Have you ever experienced “Tears of Joy” ? Joy is in the Heart …


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.