The Difference Between Happiness and Joy

The difference between happiness and joy. Isn’t it the same thing? No, girl — not at all. Feeling “happy” and “joyous” are sometimes used in conversation interchangeably but really, one shouldn’t be confused with the other. If someone asks you how you are, your answer can possibly determine if it’s based on feeling happy or joyous. Facts. So what is the difference?

Although we’ve all (hopefully) felt happiness in our lives, I’ve realised it’s still difficult for me to define with words. You feel happy, perhaps, if you buy a new car, ace your exam or eat your favourite food for dinner after you’ve been craving it all week. However, all of these have one thing in common: they are all external. Therefore, happiness here seems to entail pleasure derived as a result of experiencing favourable circumstances. It is a fleeting feeling of contentment making it quite volatile and its subjectivity makes way for unhappiness to almost always be within reach.

On the contrary though, when I feel ‘happy for no reason’, I am clothed in joy. Remember that time someone said that thing about following your bliss? They were definitely onto something. After all, life is not to be endured, but rather we are encouraged to enJOY the ride. Of course, life happens, we grow and some days joy seems far beyond our grasp but we must believe that we can feel our way back to it. The power to do so lies within because it is based on internal factors. Accepting who you are and where you are on your journey to becoming your best self is what joy is all about. It is for this reason that it tends to last longer than happiness.

And now, a few ways to get that joy joy joy joy down in your heart (to stay);

  • “We have to choose joy and keep choosing it.” —Henri J.M. Nouwen. Even on the hard days, we must take comfort in the fact that tough times don’t last. Dig deep.
  • Be conscious: Simple tasks like deep breathing exercises can bring us back to our center to focus on the simple things. The more we realise what we are grateful for is the more joyous we can feel.
  • Find joy in giving: To give — especially of your time, expecting nothing in return —is the greatest gift of all. As cliché as it sounds, it does feel better to give than to receive. Perhaps it’s because you can always relive the memory of how it felt in that moment. Give it a try.

There, you have a casual breakdown of happiness and joy. Next time you feel those positive emotions creeping up, you can actively determine how long they’ll stick around. And now you possess the power to ensure some sort of positive feeling day after day!

A firm believer in meeting you where you are for your health and wellness goals, Zakiya-Tuere Savary is a budding health educator with a passion for dance, fulfilling her purpose one health-promoting tip at a time. Follow her on IG @tueretalks.

The WE Team

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