The difference in happiness and joy

Recently I’ve spent time reading several books on happiness. It seems to be a popular trend to write on at the moment. “The Happiness Advantage”, “The Happiness Project”, among happy childothers, all great books with a positive message. But did I find the formula for happiness after reading them? I would have to say no. I found several tips to get into a happy state, and I found that having a purpose makes my life better, but I knew that all along.

I started contemplating the word ‘joy’. Maybe joy was what I needed. It’s not used as often as the word happiness, and I mostly hear it in a religious setting, so it got me wondering what the difference in joy and happiness is.

Let’s start with the dictionary definitions.

Miriam Webster gives the “Simple Definition of happy”
: feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.
: showing or causing feelings of pleasure and enjoyment
: pleased or glad about a particular situation, event, etc.

“Simple Definition of joy”
: a feeling of great happiness
: a source or cause of great happiness : something or someone that gives joy to someone
: success in doing, finding, or getting something cites these differences:

“Emotion – happiness – outward expression of elation; joy – inward peace and contentment
Time frame – happiness – temporary, based on outward circumstances; joy – lasting, based on inward circumstances
Examples of happiness vs joy
Winning a lottery brings Happiness to a person. Giving birth to a child will bring joy to a person.”

I looked at antonyms in the thesaurus, but they were similar for both words. One thing I did notice were words like ‘sorrow’ as the antonym of ‘happy’ vs ‘sorrowful’ as the antonym of ‘joy’. One sounds more temporary while another more a longer lasting state of mind.

This leads me to believe that joy is a deeper feeling, a source of happiness, ‘great happiness’ as Webster says, while happiness is a byproduct of joy. Happiness is a feeling of pleasure because of circumstances, while joy is a source or cause of happiness. I like the example of a child used by A child can bring joy by his or her very existence, while actions he or she takes can cause happiness. You can give another person a moment of happiness by a kind word or deed. You can also bring someone joy by being a good friend in their life. Maybe that’s the difference, one is longer lasting while another is more in the moment. This article is making me happy as I write it, but will it bring me joy, that’s unlikely.

I had another revelation as I went to search for a picture for this article. I can search for and find an image of happiness. Can I find a picture of joy? I don’t know that I can identify what joy looks like, but I have a picture of what happiness looks like. The child in this image is happy at the moment this picture was captured. Does she have joy in her life? I don’t know.

So what do you think? Am I missing something? What do you think the difference is in happiness and joy?

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