My wife and I were studying temperaments and personalities some years ago. Of the several classifications we studied, the easiest to understand was the one illustrated with animals—the Lion, Otter, Beaver, and Golden Retriever.
Of these, the Otter is the life of the party. I’ve heard more than one person say, “The otter is the party!” They are often the comedians or comediennes. They know how to insert humour into almost any serious situation. They are always ready to help us see the brighter side of life, and society is truly blessed to have them. But there is often another side to the Otter.
I remember Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy fame. She was one of the best comediennes in the business, and she could give the audience a good belly-laugh in the midst of personal turmoil. What is not widely known is that Lucy filed for divorce from Desi Arnaz the day after filming the last episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.
She did not publicly dwell in self-pity, but she was deeply hurting inside. Though she put on a happy front, her private life revealed a hollowness that happiness could not fill.
The root word for “happy” is “hap” and it means chance, occurrence, circumstance. So we are happy because of what is happening to us. Happiness is a temporary emotion due to pleasant circumstances (watching Lucymade us happy), but it does not sustain us in difficult times. We need something that will help us transcend the difficulties, even the tragedies of life.
Joy is a stable outlook on life. Where happiness could be called the fluff of life, joy is the meat and potatoes. I was not happy when my father died; but I am joyful that he fulfilled his purpose and accomplished his goals in life. Even missing my father does not make me unhappy because I overflow with joy when I think of his character and the memories he left behind.
How we react when things do not go our way reveals whether we live with happiness as our goal—or with joy as our foundation. One memory of dad involved a time when I came to him crying. He asked me if I wanted to be happy or to be content as I faced the problem and grew through it.
I like being happy; it is fun. But joy provides a solid foundation that helps me maintain a good attitude, even when faced with unpleasant conditions.
Article by Gene Linzey
Special mention www.characterfirst.com