The difference between happiness and joy (and how to boost them)
So many of us claim to be seeking happiness – things, people, experiences, practices that will make us happy.
But what does happiness really mean? And why, according to some experts, is it more important to be cultivating joy?
Did you know that we might just be barking up the wrong tree when it comes to living a happier life? That, in fact, we might be focusing on the wrong quality, and shooting ourselves in the foot?
Happiness, many thought leaders say, is fleeting. We feel happiness that is dependent on other people, on outside circumstances, such as the happiness of a promotion at work, or the sun coming out. Happiness, like candles on a birthday cake, is there one minute, and gone the next.
Now let’s not panic! And truthfully those little moments of happiness are important – who wouldn’t celebrate a promotion at work or a bright sunny day?
But there’s something we can focus on that’s more lasting and, in the long-term, better for our wellbeing.
What’s the secret? Joy and its magical pre-cursor, gratitude.
Joy is defined as more internally motivated, something we can cultivate within ourselves without external factors need. Joy is something we can make. And we create it by practicing gratitude.
Some say that joy and contentment are more closely linked than we might assume at first. There’s something about the long-term, almost quiet sense to joy that pervades our lives in the same way as contentment. They’re both about being comfortable in your own skin and your life. Simple, and yet easy to miss!
So how do we bring more joy into our lives?
There is a lot of research that shows regularly identifying things that you’re grateful for will slowly build up plenty of evidence for joy. Spending five minutes a day writing down or noticing some things that have made you grateful is a great step towards cultivating joy.
And as you start a gratitude practice, you’ll begin to see ways that you want to do things a little differently, or stop by the park on your way home, in order to feel that sense of gratitude at the end of the day. Which makes us more present to the joy and delight around us.
What do you think? Where do you find joy? Do you think there’s a difference between happiness and joy?