The difference between joy and happiness

I am a lover of experiences. Silly, engaging, fun, adventurous, holy, playful, constructive, meditative, organized and loving. I’m a lover of being engaged in my life. I love spending time with my kids because they remind me to be playful and bring out a motherly love I never new I was capable of. I love working for a nonprofit because I have the most interesting conversations about subjects that really matter and at the end of the day, I know I have done something positive. I get that there is a difference between this end of the day feeling and motherly love but what is it?

I think it is the difference between happiness and joy.

Happiness feels pleasant. Even, relaxed. Like walking slowly through a field of daisies on a lovely day.

Excitement is the experience of running through the daises being chased by your new love, breathlessly falling against a tree as he kisses the air out of you.

Joy is the experience of walking through the daisies on the first day of good weather. When daises are your favorite flower and you have missed their presence during the winter. When breathing in the scent of daisies and feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, puts an involuntary smile on your face. Joy to me is born from a wellspring within us, and a warmth that radiates into our experience and then into the world. To me, joy  is the a homemade chocolate cake and excitement and happiness are the filling on to make the whole cake just ROCK.

Joy, excitement, happiness are all part of our days. Mixing it up keeps things interesting.

But what if you are having a crumbly day? How do you get from crumbly to chocolate cake? First of all, this may seem obvious but, eat cake. No really, go get some and eat a big bite. It really helps. But of course, we can not solve all of our problems with chocolate cake so here are a couple of recommendations:

1. Call your peeps: I have a couple of great friends I call when I feel like I just need someone to listen which is so important sometimes. I also have a someone I call who listens, and then tells me to get off my butt, recognize my power and do something to change my attitude. Love that.

2. Build in Joy. In our busy lives, you’ve got to just add it into the mixture or the bills and the news and the constant driving of kids to activities can seem like it stinks. Music is a big deal for me. I have playlists, and tons of cds in my car. The kids and I rock out, I listen to music at work, and when my day begins and ends. Music is expression, expression is energy, moving energy gets the funk out, in a *funky” kind of way. Woot!

3. Be positive. It’s hard to focus on the grayness of the clouds when you are reading positive stuff and surrounding yourself with positive people. So when Mr. Grump-a-lot is telling you about how much things stink, tune out and tune in to your surroundings. Read inspiring words such as;

“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
Paulo Coelho

“Take time tonight to be proud of how far you’ve come and of who you are;
You serve such a special purpose;
Take time to recognize how unique you are;
When you realize just how valuable you are;
Your entire life will take on a new meaning!”

4. Share the love. The Dalai Lama says, “Recognizing our human nature as beings whose happiness is dependent on others, we learn to open our hearts, and in so doing we gain a sense of purpose and a sense of connection with those around us.” Open your heart. Somewhere, someone is having a tough day and could use some of your good vibes. Share freely. Write a thank you note to a coworker, pay for someone’s coffee in the checkout line, call someone you haven’t reached out to in awhile, engage in the world around you and bring with you loving kindness to share.

Joy is waiting for a little window within you to open up so it can come on in. All you have to do is crack the window, just a little bit. A couple of deep breaths, a change of perspective, kindness to others and whoooooosh in it comes, or rather whooooosh we remember it was there, all the time.

May you have a joy-filled day!

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2 thoughts on “The difference between joy and happiness

  1. Thank you for this! Also, my friend Sandi raves about Paul Coelho and now you mentioned him. I’m going to have to check this guy out.

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