Many people probably think that there's not much difference between happiness and joy. Two sides of the same coin. If you're happy then you have joy. If you're joyful, then you have happiness.
But, I question that assumption. In fact, I'd go so far to say that in pursuing happiness, we could be preventing joy. And, if that's true, then happiness could actually be an enemy to joy.
First, let's define both happiness and joy. Perhaps these definitions won't pass a strict dictionary test. But, they'll help us to think things through. I think of happiness as being a momentary event. Something that makes me happy for a short time.
On the other hand, joy is more of a state of being. An attitude that can last a lifetime. Or at least for more than a short time. Some people I know are joyful even when the days events are not bringing happiness to them.
So how do I arrive at the conclusion that happiness could be the enemy of joy? I begin with advertising. So many ads attempt to convince us that purchasing their product or service will bring us happiness. From restaurants to clothing to pick-up trucks the pitch is generally the same. You can't be happy without us.
If you think about the ads, you'll notice something. The happiness they're promoting is generally short lived. You buy the fast food meal because you're hungry now. You're not concerned with tomorrow. It's all about putting a smile on your face this moment.
Nevermind that your waistline doesn't need another super-sized meal. Or that you could make your own sandwich for a fraction of the cost. It's not about whether your body or bank account is healthy years from now. It's just about today's happiness.
But, if you do choose today's happiness often enough, there is a good chance that your health and your financial well-being will suffer. And that lack of health or finances will translate into a lack of joy in your life.
I may be splitting hairs in my definitions of happiness and joy. But I believe that the lesson holds true. When we consider a purchase or a course of action, not only should we question whether it will bring immediate happiness. But, if we're wise, we'll consider whether that choice will add to our long-term joy. In that way we can maximize both the happiness and joy our decisions will bring to our life.
What do you think? Am I on to something? Or should I let people be happy whenever they can be and quit bothering them about tomorrow? Drop me an email and let me know what you think.