“I want to live my life without stress and worries. I don’t need to be rich and famous. I just want to be happy” a quote I’ve always loved, from Famous English Quotes. Most of us, if asked what we are in pursuit of, the most common answer would be happiness. Is happiness frustratingly elusive or could we be looking for it in the wrong places? Is happiness really the right thing to be chasing? What is the difference between joy and happiness and how do they affect our daily lives?
“Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience but are very different. Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are, and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts, and events. (Psychologies, 2015)”
Joy and happiness are often used interchangeably but there is a profound difference between them. If you were to speak to a random sampling of people in our world today, you would get the gist of how hard it is to remain happy; there are rising rates of depression and other mental health issues. Many have lost touch with that ‘feel-good’ feeling, and not knowing how to cultivate it anymore, we have resorted to quick fixes such as drugs, alcohol, and addictive eating to get a temporary sense of reprieve from our colorless lives.
“Everyone seeks happiness, joyfulness, but from outside – from money, from power, from a big car, from a big house. Most people never pay much attention to the ultimate source of a happy life, which is inside, not outside,” Dalai Lama. “The ultimate source of happiness is within us. Not money, not power, not status…outward attainment will not bring real inner joyfulness. We must look inside.” (Rose, 2016)
Seeking joy is more favorable and valuable than aiming for happiness. Happiness is dependent on external factors whereas joy comes from within. Eating your favorite food or buying jewelry from your favorite store may make us light up and feel happy for a moment, but just like a butterfly, the feeling lands on us, then flutters away. Now, that is happiness; a momentary satisfaction, a good feeling. It is an emotional response to the senses and is subject to change at a moment's notice.
Joy is a deep feeling of contentment that is more enduring, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. “It’s wonderful to discover that what we want is not actually happiness. It is not actually what I would speak of. I would speak of Joy. Joy subsumes happiness. Joy is the far greater thing.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu (ProjectHelping, 2018). Frustrations and challenges may rob us of our happiness but not joy. One can maintain joy despite the challenges one may be experiencing. Well, then that begs the question, where do we find joy?
There's no quick ‘get-joy’ scheme. You have to put in continuous and regular effort. To begin the journey towards attaining what truly brings one joy, one needs to tap into their heart rather than their head. Quieting the chatter in your mind and creating space within allows you to listen more closely to what brings you joy (Psychologies, 2015). Practices such as meditation and prayer help you look inside yourself and lean into all that you are made of that aligns with spiritual resources that are ready to equip you for your next level.
When we cultivate gratitude in all situations, we tune into how our steps are being ordered. We tune into the opportunities to learn everything we are meant to learn for our highest good and for the good of others. Thus, it is important to look at things positively and with gratitude especially when they challenge us, as these situations help us mine everything we can from each assignment we are given and grow and build strength for greater responsibility and more impact with the next. Having an attitude of gratitude helps us face challenges head-on. The challenges become stepping stones rather than obstacles to attaining what we truly desire. Gratitude boosts our self-esteem, motivates us, and helps us bounce back from stress easily.
Joy will not come from getting a raise or buying your dream home. Joy will come from appreciating the much that you have in your life and looking at it with gratitude. As you begin to cultivate joy from the inside out, your life no longer becomes about what does or doesn't bring you joy. Joy becomes a more constant state of being. When you are more present and in tune with your inner being as it is being supported by spiritual realms, the simpler things in life become joyful; the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the people around you. Joy lives within you and is always ready to grow.
Famous English Quotes. (2022). Retrieved from Famous English Quotes: http://www.famousenglishquotes.com/i-want-to-live-my-life-without-stress-and-worries-i-dont-need-to-be-rich-and-famous-i-just-want-to-be-happy/
ProjectHelping. (2018, March 15). Happiness vs Joy: What is the Difference? Retrieved from Project Helping: https://projecthelping.org/happiness-vs-joy/
Psychologies. (2015, September 1). Better You. Retrieved from Psychologies: https://www.psychologies.co.uk/joy-vs-happiness
Rose, K. (2016). Part I: The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the Four Qualities of the Mind that Lead to Joyful Living. Retrieved from The Inward Turn: https://theinwardturn.com/part-i-the-dalai-lama-and-archbishop-desmond-tutu-on-the-four-qualities-of-the-mind-that-lead-to-joyful-living/
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D. specializes in supporting teams, departments and schools, businesses, and government agencies in building inclusive innovative change-making communities who understand how to connect well with and join diverse populations in providing needed sustainable resources for all youth and families.