The difference between happiness & joy. And why it helps to know.
There’s a difference between the definition of happiness and the definition of joy. It’s valuable to be aware of this because when things get tough, logic might want you to default to despair, or utter sadness or worse, you might think you have to choose between hardship and joy, or support and separation, or light and dark.
Consciousness is not an either/or equation. It’s about bothness.
The capacity to expand into bothness — the awareness of your joy in all circumstances — is so much of what it means to evolve.
“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, wracked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
- Agatha Christie
Happiness is always passing through. It can claim your full attention for the ten seconds it takes to swallow a sip of incredible coffee. Or it can stream through your being for weeks on end. But happiness can’t hold the same space as sadness, or anger, or the range of so-called “negative” emotions for very long. This is why it’s transitory.
Joy is the fibre of your Soul. It’s the stuff of your essence. And since you, your Soul, can never be annihilated (yes, that would make you eternal and omnipresent), your access to joy never vanishes. Because joy is so foundational to your true being, every other state or emotion can rest on top of joy, it can accommodate everything.
This means that it’s possible to grieve with your whole heart, and still sense your joy. You can feel rage, and be aware of joy waiting patiently for you to return, and take deep comfort in that.
You can get fired, dumped, dumped on, and pulled through the eye of a needle, and still feel held by the container of joy — the truth of your existence.
When you arrive at this awareness (you’ll likely have to go through the ringer to get there), your logical mind is going to be confused.
“I’m going through hell. This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me… so what’s this mighty warmth I feel within? I must be losing it. I must be in denial. I should get back to misery.”
Stay with the misery. Stay with the mighty warmth emanating from within.
“I’m aching over this loss, so can this aching gratitude in my core be real? Am I betraying my memories? Am I denying my pain?”
Not at all. You’re expanding.
When you see joy beside the agony, you have the keen vision of a Soul warrior.
It has never failed that when I have been through the most heart-breaking passages of my life — betrayal, financial hardship, divorce, dreams dashed — the pain brought me to the floor of my being, and what was there to be found?:
The simple joy of being alive. So cosmically basic it’s mind-blowing: the joy to be here, connected, animated, breathing, blessed, resilient, to be broken, to be open, to have what was, what’s left, what’s coming. The joy just to be part of reality.
Happiness. Love it when it comes.
Joy. It’s the love that lasts no matter what.