Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Difference Between Happiness and Joy

The Difference Between Happiness and Joy
Have you ever held off enjoying your life until something else happened? Maybe it's your weight or a job or your house. Maybe it's when you get a better boss. Or when you replace that clunker of a car. Or when you turn a certain age.

Would it surprise you to learn that most people live this way? Most of us live our entire lives never reaching that always-distant carrot-on-a-stick perfect situation. I call it living with the if-onlys.

If only I lost 20 pounds, then I'd be happy.

If only I could make more friends.

If only I could sell my house.

If only I could get that job.

If only I could get sober.

If only I could type faster.

If only I could sleep better.

If only I could find a partner.

If only I could afford a better stove.

If only I could have more time to read.

If only...

Never before have we spent so much time in limbo. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting for what? For something to happen that will bring about the happiness that continues to elude us.

And even if it does come, chances are, we're still not happy because there's always something else we want. There's always something else we think will bring about happiness.

So we set some other personal goal to reach what will supposedly give us the permission we need to find that elusive happiness. Happiness that never comes.

What if we took a different approach?

What if instead of looking to events or situations to play out perfectly, we found our joy in the here and now. At a time when we are 20 pounds heavier than we want to be. At a point in our career where we are in a job we'd prefer to be out of. Living in the house that is too stubborn to sell. Whether or not we're sleeping well. With or without that new stove.

When we put off our happiness, it's a sign of a much deeper issue. One that is all too familiar to many, if not all of us: Our lack of worthiness. We have forgotten that our worthiness is absolute.

Somewhere, somehow, we got the self-destructive message that we are unworthy when we don't measure up.

But by definition, "measuring up" means we are measuring our worth based on someone elses idea of what is worthy. Which means we are trying to fit in. And when we try to fit in, we tie our worthiness to external situations and events. We live from a place of shame where we don't believe we are enough just the way we are.

The problem with this way of thinking is that we can't control what happens outside of us. So what's the answer? How do we go about finding happiness and joy?

First, it starts with knowing the difference between happiness and joy. And there is a difference.

Happiness comes as a result of something, someone or some event bringing happiness into our lives. It's completely external, and therefore, out of our control. Which makes it fleeting, at best. Unattainable, at worst.

Joy, on the other hand, comes from within. It comes from a place of gratitude. Joy says that I am enough. Joy says that I am worthy exactly as I am.

In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, (p 24) Brene Brown sums it up perfectly when she writes:
"Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is."
Happiness comes from doing. And because you must either "do" or get something "done", you give up your personal power to forces outside of your control. But joy comes from being. Being Who You Really Are. And Who You Really Are is worthy. Always. No matter what.


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