On the whole, we do not distinguish between joy and happiness and think that they are the same thing. However positive psychologists (yes that is a thing!) have found that there is a distinct difference between joy and happiness, and this difference may be a turning point in a quest for joy and happiness.
Happiness is a feeling and emotion which occurs after an external event, that may be coffee with a friend or eating that bar of chocolate.
Joy, on the other hand, is internal; it comes from a place of peace and contentment. It is cultivated over time and means a change in mindset from negativity towards a more happy attitude.
What is vital to understand however is that we can be full of joy and not have happy circumstances, joy recognises and anticipation of pleasure and better times.
Happiness is transitory, but joy is foundational.
Happiness and sadness cannot occur at the same time. Joy and sadness can.
Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your happiness. So then how do we cultivate joy to live a happier life?
There is no easy way to cultivate joy in your life. Instead, it is a process which takes time energy and effort to instil into your inner being; it is not contingent on anyone else or anything else. Instead, the results from this process mean a more positive outlook on life, a sense of peace during difficult times and an overall sense of purpose.
Joy comes when you accept who you are, faults and all. Not fighting against the mirror of comparison but instead welcoming your quirks. Recognition that happiness is internal and a state independent of your job, your education, your marriage or on anything else. It is a total mindset change.
Joy brings a sense of peace and hope which the fleeting emotion of happiness does not carry.
Shawn Anchor, a psychologist, states five easy ways to cultivate happiness which leads to joy:
- Name three things you are grateful for each day. But importantly, reflect on why you are thankful.
- For two minutes each day be still and watch your breath go in and out.
- Do 15 minutes cardio each day.
- Send a text/email/letter/tell someone that you are grateful for them or praise something which they have done.
- Journal what has been the most meaningful experience in the last 24 and reflect on why.