Joy vs. Happiness: What’s the Difference?

Joy vs. Happiness: What’s the Difference?

joy vs happiness

Solve the joy vs. happiness debate once and for all. Learn which one is the most extreme form of happiness and how to access it on a daily basis.

There’s a raging debate about whether joy and happiness are the same things. Is it “joy and happiness” or “joy versus happiness”?

You will find many different interpretations and views on the topic. After all, we all want to be happy. Or do we want to be joyful?

What’s at the root of the joy vs happiness debate? Are they really different from each other?

We’re going to dive into the differences between joy and happiness to solve the debate once and for all. Here, we’ll cover:

  1. What Is the Emotion of Joy?
  2. What Are the Differences Between Joy and Happiness?
  3. Are Peace and Happiness the Same?
  4. What We Can Learn From the Joy vs. Happiness Debate
  5. How Can I Be Happy and Joyful?

What Is the Emotion of Joy?

If we want to understand the difference between joy and happiness, we must first define them.

So, what is joy? Well, joy is a feeling of spiritual and emotional wellbeing.

Sounds a lot like happiness, doesn’t it? If you Google the word “happiness”, you will find joy as one of the many synonyms listed. The opposite is also true.

If these two are different things, then why on earth do all the dictionaries consider them to be synonymous?

Essentially, joy and happiness are two distinct forms of pleasant emotional states. But they are not the same thing. There actually are some basic differences between the two.

What Are the Differences Between Joy and Happiness?

Theologically, spiritually, and even psychologically, joy and happiness have been viewed differently from each other for centuries.

Strikingly enough, the differences described in each of the disciplines are quite similar.

  • Joy is an internal affair that is self-existent and does not depend on external factors.
  • Happiness is external and fleeting. It depends upon external things, situations and experiences.
  • Joy is universal, whereas happiness is personal.
  • Joy can be achieved by tapping into the universal fountain of joy.
  • Happiness is achieved through personal objects and experiences.
Participants at Mindvalley's A-Fest 2017 in Jamaica
Participants at Mindvalley’s A-Fest 2017 in Jamaica

Joy is considered to be nobler, stronger, and more resilient than happiness.

Happiness includes feelings of gratification, excitement, merriment, playfulness, amusement, and enjoyment.

And joy includes bliss, elation, ecstasy, exuberance, and euphoria.

However, you should also remember that in day-to-day conversations, these two words are often used interchangeably and these two categories often overlap.

So, it is the intention of the speaker that you should really focus on.

 Are Peace and Happiness the Same?

In the joy vs happiness debate, some ask if peace and happiness are also the same things. But now that we’ve covered some of the fundamental differences between joy and happiness, it should be easy to tackle this question.

Peace and happiness are sometimes used interchangeably, but these two concepts are quite different.

Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani at A-Fest 2018 in Sardinia
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani on stage at A-Fest 2018 in Sardinia

We know that happiness is an external feeling motivated by external circumstances.

Peace, on the other hand, is defined as freedom from disturbance. A state of tranquility and harmony. Peace can be something felt on an individual level, but most often, peace is shared. Shared between community members and countries.

Peace and happiness can be entwined, but the circumstances from which they are initiated are different.

What We Can Learn From the Joy vs. Happiness Debate

So, to sum up, the differences between joy and happiness are:

  1. That we should consider the pursuit of joy rather than pursuing happiness.
  2. Joy is permanent and always accessible to us despite our external conditions. But for happiness to occur, you will need external stimuli.
  3. For happiness, you will need that new phone, new dress, a new partner, or a new job. But for joy, you just have to tap into the power of your own consciousness.
  4. Once you tap into the natural flow of joy that is everywhere in the universe, joy becomes the new normal for you.

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.

― Rumi

Now, going beyond the joy vs happiness debate, let’s focus on the most practical question of all: How can we access the highest form of happiness that is joy?

How Can I Be Happy and Joyful?

Most human beings underestimate just how powerful their thoughts are in creating the world around them. ⁠

—Vishen, founder and CEO of Mindvalley

Now, there is no single route to lasting peace, joy, and bliss. The journey of each individual will vary in many ways. However, there are some proven tools and techniques that all can follow to reach the pinnacle of happiness.

But the first and the most important thing to do is to acknowledge the fact that it all depends upon the state of your consciousness.

Vishen at Mindvalley's A-Fest 2019 in Portugal
Vishen at Mindvalley’s A-Fest 2019 in Portugal

The more individual, divided, and egoic the consciousness, the more attached it is to external circumstances. On the contrary, the more universal or higher the consciousness, the more it is free from the external.

So, no matter which practices you follow, it must contribute to raising the level of your consciousness toward becoming at one with the universal existence. And if you need a little help, head over to Mindvalley’s free masterclass with Sadhguru for his wise insights on how to find joy and be joyful.

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Written by
Irina Yugay