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Happiness vs. Joy

I’ve often shared my belief that all everyone really wants is to be happy, and in a practical way I believe that is true.  However, as I recently shared this concept in our small group Empower Hour session, I literally felt a question rise from within.  “Is happiness the ultimate emotion I desire to experience – is there something more?” 

I decided I needed to delve a little deeper into this question.  In prayer I asked…in meditation I listened.  Beautifully, this process allowed me to hear and feel something more…there is another emotion I desire…that emotion is Joy.

Joy…happiness, what’s the difference?

I felt a sense of calm come over me having received an answer to my prayer, but soon after I became a bit confused not really understanding the difference between the two.  Well, I went to my trusty Google and began to read and assimilate the varying explanations of happiness and joy. 

My interpretation

Happiness and Joy are both emotions where we have physical sensations within our bodies of pleasure, contentment, and gratification. However, Happiness is often short-lived because it is based upon activities and experiences that may not lead to long term contentment.  On the other hand, Joy is more aligned with our inner self and may last for a longer period of time.

It is well known that happy people are physically and emotionally healthier than unhappy ones, and there is evidence that suggests individuals can increase their level of happiness with actions like exercising to release endorphins. Interestingly, some scientists say that happiness can be studied and measured because people can reliably self-report their increases and decreases in happiness levels. 

Joy is an attitude or a belief which soothes our souls even in the most sorrowful of situations, and contains elements of contentment, confidence and hope – it can be an internal lasting emotional condition, and is an attitude that is expressed within our hearts. It is noted that when someone experiences joyfulness, physiological and biochemical changes take place that encourage a sense of well-being, completely changing the negative views of life.  

An example from my personal life…

I recently hired support people to help with marketing my business.  I was extremely happy with the outcome…they gave me everything I asked for, and in a very professional way.  I continue to be satisfied with the outcome, but there’s no longer any direct feeling I can attach to the experience.

Here’s my comparison…  

I had been contemplating another feature for my business that needed to be set up on the internet; having very little experience in creating applications, I was very apprehensive to begin.  I did. I stepped out on faith, and decided to move forward. I took my time, and step by step, researched each aspect of the process to completion.  I immediately felt empowered…filled with Joy…even as I was having difficulty believing what I had achieved.  Weeks later, I continue to feel good about myself, confident, capable, and fulfilled…knowing I did this all by myself.  

Although the actual emotional benefits were initially the same, the source is different…making the   ultimate emotion different. Happiness vs. Joy.

We all understand that none of us are happy all the time.  However, there are some people who appear to be more content and at peace…I actually know a few. 


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Here’s how you can feel more Happiness and Joy…

 · Consciously choose to smile - consciously deciding to have a good day induces endorphins and other uplifting chemicals in the brain.

 · Identify and overcome sadness - when we feel sad it’s impossible to experience joy or happiness. Identify the cause of your pain,    explore options to overcome, and commit to taking steps to deal with the circumstance.  

· Seek inspiration - prayer and meditation are two ways to produce feelings of well-being and serenity.  Consciously choose to surround yourself with people, places, and things that inspire you.

· Engage in pleasurable activities – give yourself permission to participate in uplifting “just for fun” activities.  Create opportunities for  play and other intentional acts that help you feel relaxed and at peace.

· Participate in challenging activities – think of a project you would like to accomplish and commit to completing it. The process of setting a goal, take the steps in alignment with your goal, and then achieving it will lift your self esteem and bring about feelings of pride.  

· Nurture yourself - intentionally set up time just for you; pay attention to the way you speak to yourself - avoid/eliminate negative self-  talk; use words that honor who you truly are.  

· Have an attitude of gratitude - in the moment - embrace the simple experiences and pleasures. We are often so busy that we take these  things for granted. When you're more present, the simple things become joyful; the food you eat, the air you breathe, the sounds of  nature.

This has been a truly enlightening exploration - I so love this process of learning and growing. We can all strive to develop our inner Joy.  Incorporating the above practices often will work to increase your baseline Happiness, and can bring about a more consistent feeling of Joy. 

Today, I humbly acknowledge that my life is sometimes challenging, yet, in the midst of it all I feel blessed. I know that my life is overflowing with reasons to be grateful, and I have come to believe that Joy is a conscious commitment to be Happy despite the challenges in my life. 

Embrace Joy! When we feel joy, we feel great about ourselves. We feel confident, powerful, capable, lovable and fulfilled.  Today, I choose Happiness and Joy!

 “Joy is not in things; it is in us”. Richard Wagner





Margo Davis3 Comments