Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happiness vs. Joy

Disclaimer: I am not a personal finance advisor or a pastor. I do not claim to have originated any of these thoughts or statements. I have never taken any seminary classes. I have done a fair amount of research in my quest to begin my FI journey and will include the references from which I pull information along the way. I am not a teacher; I want to learn with you and am just scratching the surface on what FI material is available out there.
The reason I am writing this blog is because I have found what I believe is a major gap in the FI community and that gap is joy. Most bloggers in this space claim to seek what makes them happiest, but they have also questioned their meaning or purpose in life. This question seems to arise once they hit FI. I hope to be able to help fill that gap for those who are seeking FI but want something more, to find joy and purpose in life. I have found this joy and purpose in life through my faith. Pure joy is found in the Bible as being mature and complete by persevering through life’s tests. 

“Your Money or Your Life – and everything you find here – is rooted in transforming your relationship with money, not just changing your money habits. The goal is to find and have ‘enough’ (and then some) rather than always seeking ‘more.’ This work requires rigor, honesty and a radical willingness to change. It equally requires curiosity and compassion, offering ‘no shame no blame’ as a mantra for the journey. Money as a tool is both material and spiritual – to get what we need and to reflect on the meaning and purpose of our lives. We see our lives as both our own to live responsibly and as a gift and in service to our wider circles of community.” – Vicki Robin, New York Best Seller of Your Money or Your Life.

The most important thing to note is that you have to do what works for you. The “optimal” way or most efficient way is not always going to be the best way for you. You have to find that sweet spot. Don’t just stop here, I recommend you google “Financial Independence” and take in as much as you can before acting upon one blog post. Welcome to BI4FI!  

The difference between happiness and joy:

Happiness is temporary. Have you ever watched your football team win a game? Didn’t that make you happy? But they can’t win every game, so I am positive you have also watched your team lose and that never makes us happy. You may be happy when you buy something new, land a new job, get a raise or be given a gift you’ve always wanted, but that car eventually gets scratched, your job eventually becomes stressful, that raise soon becomes a thing of the past and that gift becomes outdated. Happiness doesn’t last because in the society we live in, it’s never enough. We want more. We are always seeking to have the nicest, newest things. If someone has it and we don’t, it won’t be long before we also upgrade, even if we can’t afford it. Broke people think ‘how much down and how much a month’. Rich people think ‘how much’. That thing you just bought that you think you can afford because the ‘monthly payment’ isn’t bad, isn’t going to bring you happiness. J.D. Roth defines happiness this way: “Happiness isn’t something that just happens; happiness is a byproduct of the things you think and say and do.”
Here are a couple of perspectives on happiness: The Happy Philosopher drew some fancy happiness graphs for you and Mr. 1500 days explains how to be the happiest person in the room.

“When we seek an instant gratification approach to our Christian walk, we will inevitably grow frustrated as our efforts to produce spiritual fruit take longer than we expected or desired. Frustration leads to discouragement, and ultimately, we may abandon the basic disciplines of the Christian faith. Conditioned to believe every good thing is quick and easy, we may rationalize our poor spiritual disciplines with thoughts like, Prayer takes too long to see results, studying the Bible is so boring, and fasting just isn't good for my metabolism. We may live in the age of instant gratification, but there is no such thing as instant sanctification this side of heaven.” - Stephen Armstrong.

Joy is deeper. Joy is everlasting. Joy is transforming. When you have Joy, you have contentment. I have been to many poor countries, and the one thing these people in the third and even fifth world countries share is joy. They have nothing else to take their joy away! They aren’t worried about the next iPhone or apple watch. They do not care that Winter is Coming (I may or may not care). They cling to The One who is providing them with just enough to eat and drink that day. They have joy because they are content with where they are in life and they know that the creator of the universe takes care of the birds of the air and the fish of the sea and they also know how much more valuable they are than these creatures. The joy they have is something FI could never bring you. These people could never fathom the term “Financial Independence.” They are both at the bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid but yet at the very top of the pyramid as well, living a purposeful and fulfilling life, all the while not knowing what or when they may eat again. They have found their purpose in life and have a faith we could not fathom. I want that joy. We should all want that joy. Search for that contentment in your life. We are too caught up in chasing the “American Dream” which needs to be less about consumerism and more about intentionalism. Don’t ask yourself what makes you happy, ask yourself what gives you joy.
“Money only solves the problems that not having money creates.” - John Carlton 
Do not get me wrong, I am not saying there is anything wrong with being happy. I hope you have many experiences and own many things in life that make you happy. We all want to be happy. But I want you to know that happiness isn’t going to fulfill you like joy can, because joy comes from somewhere deeper, someone higher.

I’ll be right back,



  1. Wow, I love this post. I especially like how you say these people in third world countries, who have found joy, are at the bottom and top of Maslow's Pyramid. Profound and certainly something for us all to consider!!

    Joy does lead to contentment. It's about the journey and how and what we are doing in the process. I believe achieving FI will just allow me to have a larger impact on the world. I live my purpose now in my everyday life but I am limited by my commitments to work. However, there is always a way to find joy & purpose in all we do.

  2. Thank you Deanna! You nailed it. It’s the WHY behind the journey that leads to contentment. Even if FI is unreachable, there can absolutely be joy found in your journey, no matter where your journey is leading you. You are an inspiration to the FI community. Thank you for sharing your testimony and using your platform to change lives!

  3. Hi Daniel,

    Your posting on FIology led me here, I like what you wrote. About 2 years ago, my eyes were opened to the concept of time freedom, which is very different than financial freedom; it’s all because of an ex-coworker. He sent a “goodbye” email to the entire office, said he was “retiring”; I doubt he was 30 years old. In this company, when you announce that you’re resigning, mgmt will immediately walk you out the door. I remember staring at the email, asking myself if a 30 year old can “retire”. I quickly went to his desk, introduced myself, and said “retiring or quitting?” He smiled and said retiring. He said “go listen to a podcast called Investing From The Beach and do what they tell you to do”. About a minute later, the dept head and the HR person arrived to hustle him into “the exit interview”. I never saw him again. I followed his instructions. I can see my own freedom within a year, max of 18 months. I like my job and the current project I’m on, so I won’t leave when I reach freedom next year, but I will leave when this project is done, which is less than 3 years. A couple of episodes you will probably enjoy are one where they talk “Life Purpose” and another where they talk “stock vs real estate”. It will make you think…

  4. Thank you for sharing Anna! I will definitely go check out the "Investing from the Beach" podcast. I have not heard of that one but am now intrigued. Congratulations on being able to achieve FI in the next 12-18 months! That is very exciting. I applaud you for continuing to work on the project until it is complete. I hope that you have found your purpose in life and that it brings you joy every day.

  5. Real joy has no other source but Jesus. We will be disappointed if we think we can conjure up joy without a deep and meaningful faith in Jesus Christ. So the shepherds immediately left what they were doing, risking everything to find Jesus.koktale