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

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Joy Vs Happiness: What’s the Difference and Can You 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.

More About Happiness

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

More by this author

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 November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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