There are some words that I consistently get mixed up. Depends and matters. Affect and effect. (does anyone get that one right?) 11 o'clock and 1'oclock. (I might alone on this one...)
Thermostat and thermometer.
It's not that I don't know that there is a difference between a thermostat and a thermometer, I just can't remember which one is which at a moment's notice. The difference is huge though. One sets the temperature to what you want it to be, the other just records things "as is". The same goes for joy and happiness.
Joy is not conditional on the test you just received, if someone looked at you funny, or if the weather is nice outside. Happiness can be a conditional emotion. It's too variable and easily affected to be depended on for any type of self-evaluation.
Joy is a conscious decision. It goes hand in hand in contentment but steps up the game a bit.
Joy is rejoicing in the things that don't change (i.e. God's love for us, salvation, undeserved grace,etc...)
Joy is built on a peace that is derived from God, not simply an absence of troubles or drama.
Joy is a gift and a goal. It is not earned. You don't have to buy 32 boxes of cereal and mail in box tops to receive it. It also isn't going to be parachuted from a magical Joy Jet and land in your lap. It must be pursued and sought after and protected, because joy is easily stolen.
It can be a daily struggle to be consistent in joy. It's far easier to keep checking the thermometer because there is nothing you can do about the weather. Choosing joy takes intentionality and effort.
For me, consistency is more of a curse than a struggle. There is always a large part of me that stays the same no matter what is going on around me. This works greatly for me in my favor as it tends to neutralize the possibility for anger or disappointment or frustration or stress. Yet being consistently apathetic is like setting your thermostat to 60 degrees and never changing it. There is no value in that, unless you like wearing three sweaters at the same time all the time.
Today could have been a lukewarm day. There was no reason for it to be a bad day, however. Mediocre didn't seem like a favorable option either. Sticking with a good day felt like settling since I am alive today and have a God that loves me and am surrounded by so much beauty. Today, I have decided to set my thermostat to 80 degrees and leave it there.
If I can be consistently unconcerned, than I may as well be consistently joyful.