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Published on April 23, 2019

Joy Vs Happiness: What’s the Difference and Can We Achieve Both?

Joy Vs Happiness: What’s the Difference and Can We Achieve Both?

What do you want most in life?

We’ve all been asked this particular question on multiple occasions. For many of us, the answer is simple – to live a happy life. We want to achieve happiness, and although the outlook of happiness is different for every one of us, that striking emotion still stays the same.

But why don’t we ever answer – to live a joyful life? Or to be joyful.

Although the terms happiness and joy are both very similar and may fall under the same category, they both spark different emotions for everyone. The words themselves weigh differently and bring an awareness to our consciousness depending on our situations.

Joy vs Happiness — What’s the Difference?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of joy and happiness:[1]

Joy is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.

Happiness is a state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable or satisfying experience.

Keep in mind, although this is the dictionary definition, we have the openness to determine what happiness and joy personally mean in our lives.

Joy is an emotion. It’s a simple and light-hearted spark that transcends through your body and leaves feeling good vibrations. It carries no burden or expectations.

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Happiness – also an emotion – is usually accompanied with an attachment to an idea, a destination or experience. As a result, it tends to weigh profoundly heavier on our subconscious. Usually when we don’t meet these set expectations, it effects our happiness in the different areas of our lives.

There are many ways to look at happiness and joy and how we can achieve both in our lifetime. But first, let’s take it back by honing into our life’s work — also known as our purpose.

Anchoring our Purpose

We’re meant to have multiple purposes in our lives and not just one. We find our purpose through our passions and the things that make us feel alive.

As we continue to gain experience in our careers, relationships, partnerships, and living day-by-day, our purpose may begin to change. It may shift towards a completely different direction, but the anchor that keeps us in alignment with our values is the key to understanding what makes us happy.

With that said, here are the many ways to look at both happiness and joy, and how they both intertwine in our lives.

Ways of Looking at Happiness And Joy

1. Happiness Is a Destination; Joy Is an Attitude.

Take a moment and envision the life you desire.

That vision is a destination.

Are freedom and travel a considerable component of your vision? Or is it the stability and the comfort of being surrounded by your loved ones? Your vision may be of living in a cozy cottage surrounded by a luscious green yard in Europe or working for a Fortune 500 company in New York City.

Whatever your vision may be – don’t ignore it. Your vision is a destination, and the destination is the key to understanding your happy place and how to continue forward with that vision in mind.

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One way to look at happiness vs. joy is visualizing happiness as the end-goal or destination whereas joy is the milestones that lead to the end-goal.

Joy, on the other hand, is light-hearted and simple. It comes and passes through without the heaviness of it being a “final destination” because joy is an attitude.

2. Happiness and Joy Go Hand in Hand.

Happiness is like rising bubbles — delightful and inevitably fleeting. Joy is the oxygen — ever present. – Danielle LaPorte.

Sometimes, we place a lot of pressure on the idea of “happiness” with the expectancy of it to be delivered in the most grandeur way. The truth is, we are never going to be happy unless we practice joy.

Gratitude is a way of seeing the joy in the little things. There are many techniques to go about practicing gratitude such as journaling and the art of subtracting, all with the intention of looking at things on a smaller scale.

Looking at the bigger picture can be overwhelming as we can sometimes get caught up in the negatives of life.

Take a second to look at the small things that create a significant impact in our world such as having access to clean water or having a vehicle to take you to and from work. We go about these everyday mundane routines without taking a second to think, “what if we didn’t have these luxuries.”

The more you practice gratitude, the easier it will be to see the simple joys in our everyday lives.

3. One Requires Control, the Other Doesn’t

Life is composed of the things we have and don’t have control over. Living also means learning how to navigate through life when we lose that control.

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According to a report by The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “autonomy” – defined as “the feeling that your life – its activities and habits – are self-chosen and self-endorsed” is the number one contributor to happiness.[2]

When it comes to happiness, we sometimes feel trapped in those moments where if we acquire “x” then it will result to “z” (happiness):

  • When I have more money, then I can be happy.
  • When I have more time, then I can be happy.
  • When I purchase a house, then I can be happy.

We all know this isn’t the case and life happens unexpectedly where money does not easily flow and acquiring “more time” is difficult. Here, money, time, and a home are portrayed as “goals” we want to attain in order to feel fulfilled. These are also things we have control over.

On the other hand, break-ups or death of a loved one are deep and profound moments when we realize that as humans we can only control so much of an outcome. There are ways to still spark joy even in the darkest of moments.

With death, you celebrate the memory and the life of that person. Sharing their stories keep them alive in your thoughts and from those stories stem the emotion of love. Love, joy, and gratitude all intertwine with one another.

Breakups are difficult, because we are caught between a limbo of what we could have done differently vs. what has been done. You can still feel joy even when going through a a break-up by appreciating the little things that already bring joy to your every day life; whether it be a hot cup of coffee, morning run, or painting, these feelings of joy which you can tap into regardless of your situation.

4. You Can Still Feel Joy and Not Be Happy

You can still feel joy in an unhappy place.

Some of my best years in the work-force was working in an industry that wasn’t quite aligned with my interest. I enjoyed the company of my colleagues, and can say that working in a hotel has given me a solid backbone.

Yet, at the time I was very blinded by the fact that, “this isn’t what I want to be doing” and “this isn’t what I studied.” I wanted to utilize my degree in media, and cutting keycard and checking-in guests was far from what I imagined as my “happy place.”

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What does this have to do with happiness and joy? You can still feel joy through your actions because your action is what is in alignment to your values.

It was through conversing with guests that I realized I found joy in human connectivity. It was through efficient teamwork, that I felt joy being surrounded by a close-knitted community. It was my value of having strong work-ethics that kept me grounded and accountable to my work.

All these realizations brought clarity because it sparked an emotion from me. Looking past the feeling of, “I don’t want to be here” taught me to see the reasons of why I stayed; to the point where I was convinced that I quite enjoyed hospitality.

It is possible to find these hidden things when you step away from the big picture. Once you realize how your actions play a role in your “joy,” you’ll begin to realize that happiness is but a destination that keeps you accountable to your goals.

Final Thoughts

Joy and happiness co-exist for an important reason – to allow us to live a fulfilling life.

While one is more accountable to our goals, wishes and desires, the other is a natural instinct and emotion that has always lived within us.

External factors and situations will always influence our outlook of happiness and joy, but life is to be lived and to be simply enjoyed. Whether it’s to be happy or to feel joyful, you clearly can’t go wrong feeling either.

Featured photo credit: Suad Kamardeen via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster dictionary: Joy and Happiness
[2] Psychology Today: The No. 1 Contributor to Happiness

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Akina Chargualaf

Akina Chargualaf is an entrepreneur, writer, and the content creator of travel and personal development blog Finding Fifth.

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Last Updated on September 12, 2019

12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

Even the most charismatic people you know, whether in person or celebrities of some sort, experience days where they feel lost in life and isolated from everyone else.

While it’s good to know we aren’t alone in this feeling, the question still remains:

What should we do when we feel lost and lonely?

Here are 12 things to remember:

1. Recognize That It’s Okay!

The truth is, there are times you need to be alone. If you’ve always been accustomed to being in contact with people, this may prove difficult.

However, learning how to be alone and comfortable in your own skin will give you confidence and a sense of self reliance.

We cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to become self reliant when we look for constant companionship.

Learn how to embrace your me time: What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

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2. Use Your Lost and Loneliness as a Self-Directing Guide

You’ve most likely heard the expression: “You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.”

Loneliness also serves as a life signal to indicate you’re in search of something. It’s when we’re in the midst of solitude that answers come from true soul searching.

Remember, there is more to life than what you’re feeling.

3. Realize Loneliness Helps You Face the Truth

Being in the constant company of others, although comforting sometimes, can often serve as a distraction when we need to face the reality of a situation.

Solitude cuts straight to the chase and forces you to deal with the problem at hand. See it as a blessing that can serve as a catalyst to set things right!

4. Be Aware That You Have More Control Than You Think

Typically, when we see ourselves as being lost or lonely, it gives us an excuse to view everything we come in contact with in a negative light. It lends itself to putting ourselves in the victim mode, when the truth of the matter is that you choose your attitude in every situation.

No one can force a feeling upon you! It is YOU who has the ultimate say as to how you choose to react.

5. Embrace the Freedom That the Feeling of Being Alone Can Offer

Instead of wallowing in self pity, which many are prone to do because of loneliness, try looking at your circumstance as a new-found freedom.

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Most people are in constant need of approval of their viewpoints. Try enjoying the fact that  you don’t need everyone you care about to support your decisions.

6. Acknowledge the Person You Are Now

Perhaps you feel a sense of loneliness and confusion because your life circumstances have taken you away from the persona that others know to be you.

Perhaps the new you differs radically from the old. Realize that life is about change and how we react to that change. It’s okay that you’re not who you used to be.

Take a look at this article and learn to accept your imperfect self: Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable

7. Keep Striving to Do Your Best

Often those who are feeling isolated and unto themselves will develop a defeatist attitude. They’ll do substandard work because their self esteem is low and they don’t care.

Never let this feeling take away your sense of worth! Do your best always and when you come through this dark time, others will admire how you stayed determined in spite of the obstacles you had to overcome.

And to live your best life, you must do this ONE thing: step out of your comfort zone.

8. Don’t Forget That Time Is Precious

When we’re lost in a sea of loneliness and depression, it’s all too easy to reflect on regrets of past life events. This does nothing but feed negativity and perpetuate the situation.

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Instead of falling prey to this common pitfall, put one foot in front of the other and acknowledge every positive step you take. By doing this, you can celebrate the struggles you overcome at the end of the day.

9. Remember, Things Happen for a Reason

Every circumstance we encounter in our life is designed to teach us and that lesson is in turn passed on to others.

Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to figure out the lesson to be learned, while other times, we simply need to have faith that if the lesson wasn’t meant directly for us to learn from, how we handled it was observed by someone who needed to learn.

Your solitude and feeling of lost, in this instance, although painful possibly, may be teaching someone else.

10. Journal During This Time

Record your thoughts when you’re at the height of loneliness and feeling lost. You’ll be amazed when you reflect back at how you viewed things at the time and how far you’ve come later.

This time (if recorded) can give you a keen insight into who you are and what makes you feel the way you feel.

11. Remember You Aren’t the First to Feel This Way

It’s quite common to feel as if we’re alone and no one else has ever felt this way before. We think this because at the time of our distress, we’re silently observing others around us who are seemingly fine in every way.

The truth is, we can’t possibly know the struggles of those around us unless they elect to share them. We ALL have known this pain!

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Try confiding in someone you trust and ask them how they deal with these feelings when they experienced it. You may be surprised at what you learn.

12. Ask for Help If the Problem Persists

The feeling of being lost and lonely is common to everyone, but typically it will last for a relatively short period of time.

Most people will confess to, at one time or another, being in a “funk.” But if the problem persists longer than you feel it should, don’t ignore it.

When your ability to reason and consider things rationally becomes impaired, do not poo poo the problem away and think it isn’t worthy of attention. Seek medical help.

Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

Final Thoughts

Loneliness and a sense of feeling lost can in many ways be extremely painful and difficult to deal with at best. However, these feelings can also serve as a catalyst for change in our lives if we acknowledge them and act.

Above anything, cherish your mental well being and don’t underestimate its worth. Seek professional guidance if you’re unable to distinguish between a sense of freedom for yourself and a sense of despair.

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Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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