Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Difference Between Happiness and Joy

The difference between happiness and joy. Though I experience both as ephemeral, I’m coming to understand that joy – deep, rich, heart-felt joy, is of spirit, and happiness is of the ego. Happiness seems to arise when external circumstances go as expected or surpass expectations. So I’m happy when I see you, or taste something good, or wake up without aches and pains, raring to go. Joy is an inner experience and doesn’t depend on external events. It arises spontaneously, often paired with the peace that passeth understanding, independently of my judgments about external events and often in spite of my judgments of them. So I’m stuck in traffic and suddenly feel a deep sense of joy and peace. Or I’m in the dentist’s chair with the high speed drill whining and I feel a deep peace and hint of joy.

The internal/external, spirit/ego distinction between joy and happiness is important because with one, happiness, my feelings are dependent on events seemingly beyond my control, while with joy, I am in control and have a choice. Joy is my birthright as a child of spirit (yours, too) and we can experience it no matter what’s going on in and around us, by remembering who and what we are; saying enough to the ego’s nightmare; wanting to shift to our reality in spirit; then allowing spirit to awaken us – letting go of our individual ego identities, getting our bloated nothingness out of the way.

Then too, happiness being dependent on externals, requires a bit more work and is an ‘if/then’ proposition – if I get the job, the parking space, the date, I’ll be happy. Tho, we can also be happy by shifting from ego to spirit and experience the happy dream instead of the nightmare, what’s important is not feeling like a victim at the mercy of external events. Both happiness and joy can arise from the inside-out, from shifting from ego to spirit. The thing is, if we go for joy more often than we go for happiness, we will be building spiritual muscle and a commitment to our reality as spirit and begin experiencing both more joy and more happiness.

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