I have spent years, almost my entire 28 years, paying attention to the meaning of happiness and joy. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re named a feeling, an emotion, that is powerful enough to move mountains. I’m not quite sure most people understand the difference between the two. I also don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. There are a lot of definitions on the internet. There are also dedicated psychologists that study happiness. The two words could potentially be interchangeable, but I will tell you what they mean to me.
Joy is something we are born with. Joy is a deep feeling that we feel because we are born with that ability. It is a feeling that provides the foundation for happiness and is the precursor to all sorts of positive emotions. Joy is a huge part of me. It is my name, it is my character, it is my life. If I was not Joia, I wouldn’t feel as strongly about this, but I came into this world and my lovely parents named me Joia. I am joyful, it is by my nature. I don’t think that I’m the chosen one where I was born with joy, I think everyone is born with joy. I think everyone can feel these deep joyful positive emotions. I keep using the word deep to describe joy. Its deep because it’s something you feel in your heart and in your bones. It is a visceral feeling.
Happiness is more of the quick access emotion. Happiness is something that can come and go quickly. Happiness is something that is not always accessible to people. I know this because we have many people prescribed and taking antidepressants. Happiness is something that can come up and put a smile on your face, but may be gone only minutes later. Happiness is something that most people look outside themselves to find. This person makes me happy, this food makes me happy, this book, this dog, this whatever makes me happy. It’s all outside. It’s not coming from within. Happiness is something that we always are trying to grasp on to. That made me happy so I’m going to do that again. A lot of times, addictions arise from this state. Drinking made me feel happier in that situation, so I’m going to go have a few drinks to feel that way again. We seek to escape our current reality to find happiness or a happier state.
So, if joy is deeply embedded inside us, and happiness seems to be this fleeting thing on the surface, are they really the same or connected? Do I need to feel happiness to access my joy? They are still connected. The more in touch you are with your inner joy, the more happiness you will feel and for longer. The happiness on the outside is not going to get you to feel your inner joy. Your inner joy is only going to come from inner. It’s only going to come from paying attention to your own inner voice and it’s only going to speak to you if you’re ready to listen.
So, how do we access our inner joy? This all comes back to being healthy. Accessing our inner joy is directly related to how healthy we are. Are we following our dreams? Do we exercise and fuel our bodies well? Do we have supportive, loving relationships? Do we feel valued? Do we have a purpose in our communities or in the world? Accessing your inner joy is paying attention to these questions and understanding how to maximize them. Start simple. Start with exercise and fuel. Do you consistently move your body in a way that brings your happiness? Do you get those endorphins pumping? Do you feed your body fuel rather than whatever food is available?
Accessing your inner joy means taking your life seriously. It means finding out what your soul wants and then doing everything in your power to work towards that life. Some people call it a dream life; some people call it the only way to live. The way to access your inner joy is to get rid of all the noise and BS in your life that doesn’t bring you immediate happiness. Get rid of what no longer suits you. Spend more time asking yourself what is it that you need. Spend more time meditating. Spend more time listening to your inner self.
This blog post and IG post were inspired by one of my favorite meditation proctors. Her name is Sarah Blondin and I listen to her meditations called Live Awake on Insight Timer (which is a meditation app that I’ve been using for a few years now and have accrued over 125 hours of meditation, both guided and unguided). She recently came out with one called “Our Call to Presence” and it’s all about how being present is how we access our happiness. I agree with this. I agree that being present with yourself is the only way to access your happiness.
Be present with yourself. Be honest with yourself. Be alive with yourself. Your heart depends on it.