The Battle Between Joy And Happiness

“The fact is always obvious much too late, but the most singular difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is a solid and joy a liquid.” – J.D. Salinger

Guess what, folks? It’s another post on happiness and joy amongst all the noise of the debate. Happiness seems to be the topic du jour these days. Especially, amongst the Silicon Valley elite and entrepreneurial crowd that I associate with sometimes. For me, it’s an amusing topic to have a conversation about. There seem to be some absolute ideas about attaining happiness floating about that people like to throw around like referring to that certain hierarchy pyramid (you know, the one by that dude with the initial M.), or Tim Ferris’ 4-hr work week, or some kind of peak attainment of self-actualization that is the be all end all solution to personal happiness and satisfaction.

Seldom do I hear people say simply this: Have Joy.

That’s it. Non-qualified. It’s a simple phrase and, yet, profound in its simplicity.

Joy is a steady state that continuously flows inwards and outwards from the self. For myself it coincides with a world view that everyone and everything brings with it indiscriminate experiential worth and value and that we can create platforms for each other to draw out potential, creativity, and imagination. Joy is a practice of being present in listening and communication. Joy is seeing the world as absurd in a wonderful way. Joy is being able to laugh at the self and to acknowledge the child within. Joy is letting go of the internal dissonance that we fight against and discovering natural harmony that emerges when we do so. I won’t say that I have perfected walking a path of non-judgement, but I work everyday at cultivating non-judgement. This is also joy. Joy is forgiveness. Joy is compassion. Joy is living in the wisdom of a middle way. 

Joy leads to a healthy perspective on happiness.

Happiness alone is not enough. It is a fleeting state that cultivates an unhealthy outlook on attainment, qualification and quantification. Happiness is a roller coaster ride between pleasure and pain, fulfillment and emptiness. The search for happiness feeds upon internal dissonance and seeks, unsuccessfully, to reconcile self-doubt, insecurities, quiet anguish, wants and needs. It is always thirsty and only satiated for short periods of time. Happiness can disguise itself as joy, but if it is unsteady the facade falls apart. Attaining career aspirations and material wealth can provide the satisfaction of the facade, but if completely taken away the self starts over again at attaining happiness. Happiness is deterministic and depends on tangibility. 

The search for happiness is not inherently bad, but can be a misguided and futile effort at accommodating inner stillness. Knowing and having joy can help to bring out your inner glow.

In future posts, I will be exploring ways of cultivating and knowing joy.

– Joyful Rabbit

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