Friday, July 23, 2010

Happiness and Joy

A fascinating distinction between the definition of two words that on first blush seem synonymous. Happiness and joy would seem to be minor variations of feeling good.

Look deeper and read the book "Something More" by Sarah Ban Breathnach. She defines Happiness as a feeling often "triggered by an external event. You got the job, he loved you back, you were approved for your mortgage application." Events that happen as you hoped they would. You asked for something and you got it and now you are feeling happiness.

Although Joy seems like simply a heavenly permutation of happiness it is more. Simply stated, "Joy is the absence of fear." No matter what outcome you achieve from your efforts, you recognize that that outcome is the right one. If you did not get the result that you were hoping to get, there is a new and better result awaiting you. "Something better, something richer, something deeper". A profound acceptance of what is.

The absence of fear is a profound state of joy. No longer do you fear losing your job, losing all your money, having your children move away. When you reach that state of acceptance of what is and see each change as an opportunity to take a new path, there is no longer fear. When fear goes, joy rushes in to fill the space.

Fear reflects our resistance to change. And the fact that we like to control our outcomes. This goes back to a previous blog entry on finding the middle ground between managing your outcomes and letting life happen as it should. We want what we want. And sometimes we do not get it. Look forward, not back when this happens. There is more waiting for you. Looking back is about control, regret, unhappiness. A negative spiral of inactivity.

I am able to achieve this joy in rare enviable moments and these brief moments inspire me to reach for a longer extended version of that joy. It is like eating chocolate. It just feels good. I want more.

Photo compliments of

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