How do YOU experience Joy?

Do you know what the difference is between experiencing happy and experiencing joy? Did you even know that there is a difference? Well, there is, and it’s a mighty big difference!

You’ve all heard before that “happiness comes from inside you.” Technically, that’s true. But the meaning people take from that is very different than how it was intended. Happiness comes from inside you because you have the capability inside you to experience it!

According to, both joy and happiness are positive and desirable emotions where a person has a feeling of being satisfied. These feelings are based on certain reasons, and the nature that causes that particular feeling can differ.

Joy comes from the inner-self of a person, and is connecting with the source of life within you. It is caused by something really exceptional and satisfying. The source of joy is something or someone greatly appreciated or valued, and it is not only about oneself, but also about the contentment of those people whom you value the most.

Happiness is an emotion experienced when in a state of well-being. The state of well-being is characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happiness is simply the state of being happy. It may be caused by fortune, luck or various other pleasures that range from person to person. Happiness is a result of something that is outside of you, and gained by observing or doing that particular thing. Social networks and human relationships are the most important correlation with happiness. Happiness spreads through relationships like friends, siblings, partners, neighbors etc.

Happiness may be momentary, as it is a result of short-term contentment; but joy, being related to the inner self, is long lasting. Happiness simply pleases a person, while joy brings warmth to that person’s heart, and brings contentment to one’s heart.

Happiness comes from outside, while joy from within, and with this attitude of joy, the person is in a state of grace. Joy is an extension to happiness. It is a continuous state of happiness, and a positive emotion. It is not merely a fleeting thing, like happiness.

Happiness can also be characterized as being materialistic, and rests more on worldly pleasures, while joy is a state derived from the emotional well-being of a person.

Here’s an example that might make it easier to understand the difference: Someone near and dear to you has been eyeing something he or she would really like to have but will never buy for him/herself (it might be a matter of finances or maybe a feeling of being frivolous). So for this person’s birthday or at Christmas, the gift you give is exactly that item. When the gift is opened, the recipient is going to feel a great deal of happiness. But what you feel will be joy. Of course, you are happy for them (external) but you are joyed (internal) at causing such great happiness for another.

If you read my blog post called “(Just Another) Day in Paradise”, you know I was over-the-moon happy about the opportunity for and events that took place. I know I described myself as swaying between giddy and delirious. I couldn’t thank Gayle enough for being able to have this happen to me. And, after yet another ‘thank you’ to her, she replied telling me that seeing me so happy brought her joy. And in an instant, I could relate to that. I know what joy feels like, but this is the first time, to my knowledge, that I’ve experienced giving joy! Knowing that was like the icing on the cake.

I encourage you to find ways to experience this incredible emotion. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift… maybe a spontaneous drive to a person’s favorite store or restaurant. Put on your thinking cap and get out there – I promise it will be worth it!

Guilt – the gift that keeps on giving

Recently, a fellow blogger (check her out at for her Views and Mews by Coffee Kat) wrote an excellent blog about guilt in friendships. Since a blog on guilt was in my queue, I decided to move up its priority while her blog was still fresh in my mind.

Sometime in my tween years, I ‘learned’ that guilt was a strong hold in the Catholic faith. I wasn’t raised in that faith, but I didn’t have reason to doubt the authenticity of that idea. Nonetheless, I suffered (and still suffer) from a lot of guilt. Back then, I felt it, but just didn’t really know what it was.

I am, by nature, both a giver and a people pleaser. As a child, I was not only the middle child but the only girl. I learned pretty quickly that my parents responded fastest to negative behaviors by their children, and those responses were never pleasant, so I learned how to try and be invisible. My mother, may she rest in peace, had a large wooden paddle – with her name engraved on it, no less – and she was not afraid to weld it. She was also quick to anger and believed in the idea of punishing first and asking questions later. I know my people-pleasing nature evolved during those years as a result.

But the Catholics are not the only ones who practice guilt. I’ve since come to understand that the ‘gift of guilt’ comes in any faith. It is a great tool for people who like to criticize or find fault in others, a great tool for people who want to express their disappointment. “If only you would……, then I…….”. In other words, what you say or don’t say, what you did or didn’t do is the reason I feel the way I do. How selfish is that? Any psychotherapist will be quick to tell us that our feelings are OUR responsibility, that our happiness lays in OUR hands. Of course, at the same time, they tell us that we are entitled to our feelings. Perhaps therein lay the conundrum?

It’s a long, often painful, process to walk away from the people who tend to heap guilt. I have no doubt that family is the first, and biggest, unit to hand out guilt like it’s a gift. They tell you that the negativity they share with you about your words and/or actions is “for your own good”. What that really means is that they want you to adapt your behavior to fit a mold of how they want you to behave. It’s not that wanting us to change, if there is a none-self-centered reason, isn’t a bad thing. Maybe we’re not aware of a way we behave that is harmful to others. But there surely are better ways to tell us so than through the gift of guilt?

I am probably always going to be a slow learner in recognizing that the guilt card is being continually played. It takes me a while to truly see how another is manipulating me for their own benefit and that our relationship exists primarily for that reason. But I’m doing it – and I’m encouraging you ALL to take a look at those relationships in which you always feel defensive and prepared for attack. And when the “light bulb” lights and you see it, be aware for guilt to be heaped upon you once you are no longer front and center in fulfilling another’s needs by overlooking your own. I still feel a small amount of guilt for friendships I’ve walked away from once it became obvious that they would remain the same, no matter how much I tried to change them. But I’ll take the small and occasional guilt feelings as a positive exchange for not having the weight of making sure their needs are met and getting nothing in return.

Guilt is, in my opinion the “gift that keeps on giving”. Once you start to accept it, it becomes more and more difficult to say, “Thank you but no thank you” and stop accepting it. But your happiness comes from within you (or so those therapists say) and you deserve to be happy in your relationships.