Part of being an adult is owning your own property. One of the natural rights laid out by John Locke was property. This of course was famously changed by Thomas Jefferson to the pursuit of happiness, because happiness is more important than things. People often say that money cannot buy you happiness. They say this because you are not suppose to place your happiness in items that are only temporary. This is true. However, this is also slightly wrong. I think when people talk about happiness in this sense they are actually referring to joy. The Bible tells us to find our joy in the Lord, not happiness. Happiness and joy are different. I think temporary things can bring happiness, but they cannot provide joy.
Happiness is an emotion like anger or sadness. Emotions are apt to change and are effected by outside sources. For instance, when I get a poor grade on an assignment I am sad or upset. But, my upsettedness can change to happiness when a friend buys me ice cream to cheer me up. Neither of these change my underlying state of joyfulness. Joy is a state of being. Knowing that God is in control and that I find my strength in Him gives joy. Joy allows for emotions, but it itself is not changed because God is not changed. Joy lives alongside all ranges of emotions. I think it is important to distinguish happiness from joy because there are certain things that bring happiness, whereas, joy should always exist.
I say all this because I have made recent steps in my life to allow for more happiness. These steps are consisted of temporary things, but they bring happiness nonetheless. The biggest of these steps is that I bought a new car. And let me tell you, I am so freaking happy because of it. My old car, Jill the Escape (yeah I name my cars), was having some difficulties that were causing me stress. I had Jill for about four years, and she has driven across the country with me a few times. She was a great car, but she was also needy. So, I decided to make a change to prevent unneeded stress and allow more happiness. I did not buy off Craigslist this time, or even go to AutoTrader. No, this time I decided to be a full adult and buy from a dealership, using my own adult earned money, and making all the decisions myself. I found the exact car I wanted, and after literally hours of negotiations I got the exact price I wanted.
In this case money did buy me happiness. It bought me peace of mind to know that my car will not break down. However, it did not buy me joy. Joy existed the whole time. Joy was there when Jill refused to start. But, joy was also there when I got into my new car for the first time and drove it home. God doesn’t change, so that means the place my joy is founded doesn’t change. My emotions change, and there are real things I can do to help coerce them back into proper place. Sometimes you do have to buy happiness.
“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin