Joy, happiness, willpower & the stuff in-between
A while ago I posted a video on YouTube on the link between authenticity and joy. One of the comments I received on Twitter was “not sure sure authenticity is linked to happiness”. On this comment I must agree. I can tell you that after a tough couple of months and throughout my life, I’ve found that happiness doesn’t necessarily equal joy.
Happiness can be elusive but joy is present, even through pain
I was pleased to see that Psychologies magazine agrees with my definition of joy versus happiness. Joy is internally cultivated and more consistent (despite challenging circumstances) than happiness, which is an emotion, and as such, transient by its nature.
I’ve heard joy described as an attitude from the heart but in my definition joy is a sense of being on track even when things around you are falling apart. Joy is a sense of peace. Joy is a sense of truth or knowing of one’s own truth. This is my somewhat inadequate description of joy based on my experience with my intention being to highlight the difference between joy and happiness.
The authenticity – joy link
How are authenticity and joy linked? Essentially, the more ‘free’ we are to be and express ourselves, the more joy we experience. I.e. when we make choices that feel more aligned to what we really want, we experience more joy.
This is an internal process and doesn’t necessarily have to do with anyone else, however by the mere fact that we’re interacting with others all the time, it will have an impact on our choices and those we engage with.
So how does this relate to willpower?
The more authentic we are, the easier a process of action will be. If you get on with someone, you won’t need to make an effort; you’ll be genuinely interested in maintaining a relationship with them. If you really want to learn a new language, you’ll actually be prepared to go to lessons. If you’re genuinely interested in completing a marathon and running, you’ll put in the effort. The more authentic a goal is, I.e. in accordance with your true desires, the easier it will be to embark on the process. Note I didn’t say the easier it will be to achieve.
This is why when we are having conflict, it takes so much more energy to engage with someone. Or when we’re feeling drained, it may require more energy to go to work or to exercise.
But wait, this isn’t always true
As mentioned we can’t only engage with people because it takes no willpower. Sometimes, as with most human relationships, conflict may arise and it would take more willpower than usual to interact with someone. In the same light it may take more willpower to go to work or to study when we’re feeling drained. This unfortunately is part of life and we overcome this by seeing the bigger picture. When we value someone I.e. when we feel an authentic connection or when, generally, their presence brings us joy, we’re prepared to compromise or to have the difficult conversations for the good of the relationship.
It also takes more willpower to start something new
It’s natural when we try new things, that it takes willpower and energy to get started. There’s the fear of “will I be able to do it?” or just the general fear of the unknown which will take some ‘willpower’ to embrace (not necessarily overcome, just embrace). It may take one effort to get to your first French class or to enquire about a new degree, but once you’re there, you’ll find that if you love it, it’ll become easier. It doesn’t mean actually attaining the goal will be easy but in a state of joy, you’ll need less willpower to keep going with the process.
So why should I know this or even care?
There are a couple reasons you’d want to understand the inverse proportion of willpower to joy and authenticity and that is because;
- You come to see that when something continually drains you, it takes more willpower and this may drain you further, in which case something needs to change.
- You may see that something gets easier and brings you more joy, once you’ve tried it for the first time
- Things you’re generally interested in, are easier to sustain
- It’s easier, and takes less effort, to sustain joy than it does happiness
- You realise just how much choice you have in all the activities and aspects of your life
This has been something that I’ve been thinking about lately and wanted to share. Agree or disagree? Feel free to post your comments below.
Until next time