Happiness or Joy?

I’m not terribly enamoured with happiness. I prefer joy. Many people use these lovely words interchangeably but I see them as having very different qualities. Happiness is one of the top 3 desires for human beings, along with love and peace but so few seem to attain it or be able to hold on to it.

I’d like to introduce you to Carla;

She wanted her boyfriend to propose, so he did – she was happy for 2 days.
She wanted to renovate her house, so she did – she was happy for 1 day.
She wanted to go on holiday to New Zealand, so she did – she was happy for 2 weeks.
She wanted a new job, so she got one – she was happy for 5 minutes.
She wanted to get married, so she did – she was happy for a few days.
She wanted to get pregnant, so she did – she was happy for 1 week.
She wanted her baby to be born healthy, so he was – she was happy for a few days.

Carla got everything she wanted over a 3 year period. Every goal was attained and kudos to her. Yet she is also one of the unhappiest people I have ever known. She has no hobbies or interests, no spiritual beliefs or relaxation practices. She expects her happiness to come from being a wife, an employee, a friend, a mother. She is totally dependent on circumstances and people when it comes to her happiness. If Carla knew how to cultivate joy, her life would be so much sweeter in between attaining each of her goals.

Happiness is externally orientated, it is so fleeting and dependant on circumstances. It’s a temporary response to getting our desires met. Or, there is a certain kind of happiness that occurs when some potential problem is averted. As soon as you achieve your goal and feel happy the next desire starts bubbling up to the surface. Then your happiness is held hostage again until the new desire is fulfilled. Round and around it goes.

Joy on the other hand, is internally orientated. It’s cultivated from within and crappy circumstances or unfulfilled desires don’t have a say in the matter. Thankfully, cultivating joy is a completely individual choice. You get to determine what gives you joy. Having a spiritual practise or meditating is the purest way I’ve found to cultivate it but for you it could be surfing, hiking, or playing an instrument – the ways are endless.

I’ve come to believe we need a balance of happiness and joy, because happiness does have it’s purpose. Pursuing goals moves us forward and attaining them fuels our confidence. Whereas cultivating joy gives us inner satisfaction and a sense of empowerment. Let’s blend them together and invent a new word and see if it catches on.

Joyhap – a blend of happiness and joy.

May all beings experience joyhap!


Photo Credit: Josh Felise via Unsplash


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