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Last Updated on February 25, 2020

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

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

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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 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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