What’s the difference between joy and happiness?
Both joy and happiness are feelings. We can feel joy and we can feel happy. However, observation of joy shows that it tends to come from inside of us, whereas witnessing the feeling of happiness shows that most of the time external factors elicit the response.
Last week I mentioned that the act of smiling, the actual turning up the corners of our mouth, can help our bodies produce neurotransmitters that affect us by stimulating positive emotions. What if another simple act of just our understanding the difference between joy and happiness can also help us feel better and make a BIG difference in our lives?
We know that happiness is important not only emotionally, but also physically. Our personal happiness really does affect how well our life goes all around. If we aren’t happy, it means we are feeling or experiencing other emotions instead that may influence our physical health. And if we add stress in our life on top of not feeling happiness, it can lead to feelings of loss of control, lack of purpose, unworthiness, and bad habits leading to unhealthy choices.
So, what can we do? How can we turn a downward emotional spiral around?
First, seek to understand the difference between joy and happiness, and instead of looking for happiness outside of yourself, focus on cultivating the feeling of small joys every day. Experiencing small joys daily can help create a happier life overall.
We all have small joys. Your joys are individual preferences within you as you experience life. Here are a few ways to help you identify and adopt habits that will nurture your own small joys.
- Start every day by appreciating something about yourself.
Recognize something you love about yourself. Disregard the perceived flaws you may think you have, but actively single out something that you identify in yourself that you either adore, admire, or appreciate, just because it is part of you or maybe the way you do things. Maybe it’s your sense of humor, your own eyes when you look in the mirror, the types of books you like to read, how you notice things no one else does, your ability to think about subjects in a certain way, or your love of color, coffee, or cantaloupe. See—this is not hard. It’s very simple but you must make it a habit EVERY DAY. And this is not at all being vain. These are special little joys of you just being you. These daily joys help build self-esteem and lead to positive choices in taking care of yourself, which ultimately leads to healthy feelings of well-being.
- Identify a purpose in your life.
This is a big thing that determines how we treat ourselves and how we feel about our life. If we don’t know what our purpose is, then it makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Or if we are doing things that do not align with our purpose, it really makes it hard to keep going. Our personal purpose will light the internal flame of joy that radiates outward into our life and everything we do. And you don’t just have one purpose, you could have many purposes in life, but the thing to look for is where your values line up with your beliefs. If you make goals from the intersection of your values and beliefs, life just seems to follow your purpose and light your path. And feelings of purpose are vital for daily joy.
- Think flexibly so you can adapt to change and cope with stress.
There is nothing like stress and things not going your way to zap your joy and steal your happiness. We have ideas of the way we want our life to go and rarely does a life journey follow the yellow brick road as we had imagined it to be. The zapper is our rigid grip on the idea of the outcome we anticipated. But what if we could loosen our mental hold and allow ourselves to lean into the way things are going, even if we don’t like it and it makes us uncomfortable. What if we could perhaps adopt the attitude of not labeling the disappointment or struggle, but just being with it and watching what unfolds for the unexpected blessing.
Starting each day appreciating yourself and living your chosen purpose in a flexible manner is something that may take discipline to foster. If we can be adaptable in thinking about our lives and the course it takes without attachment, we might more readily appreciate each small joy in its own moment. In recognizing and embracing each of those precious moments, it will become evident that the whole of a happy life is made up of the small daily joys we choose to savor.
This week conquer your reality in 10 minutes at a time by observing those little things you adore about yourself, by opening yourself up to living your purpose every day and cherishing each moment of joy as it comes.
Hearts & Hugs,