“Joy is what we experience in the process of growing nearer to the goal of becoming ourselves.”
– Erich Fromm
- What brings you pleasure?
- What makes you happy?
- When are you joyful?
Spend some time with these questions. Let them sit in your mind for a while. See what answers arise.
Here are some descriptions that I find helpful:
Happiness is the result of being present in each moment with love and respect towards yourself and others, while pleasure is a momentary feeling that often arises from external sources. Happiness and Joy are often interchanged, but Joy comes is a deeper feeling: you are at peace with who you are, why you are, and how you are.
From my experience, when challenged with the Pleasure vs. Happiness question, differentiating between pleasure and happiness in the moment was relatively clear. But only through reflection could I see phases in my life where I truly was joyful. And I was able to see how the joy came from happiness AND differed from happiness.
My hope is that you can find joy.
But to get there, you must embrace the journey.
I’ll use myself as an example with that hopes that some part of my journey resonates with you.
I was incredibly dialed in at one point in my life. I had a clear vision of where I was and where I wanted to go. Life was simple. I made decisions based on the HELP or HURT model. I understood what made me happy and was able to differentiate that from what brought me pleasure. And, at a deeper level, I experienced joy. But nothing lasts forever.
The most basic Truth is that of impermanence.
Change is constant.
One moment you are dialed in, the next moment, you are lost.
Again, training is a metaphor for life:
Much like when we take time off of training, our fitness declines, if we neglect our “self” our ability to experience happiness and joyfulness declines.
I didn’t exactly neglect my “self,” but I definitely went through a transition period after I stopped racing, finished my doctorate, and entered the next stage in my life. The clarity in which I was able to make decisions was clouded because I didn’t have a clear direction of where I wanted to go.
Fast forward to the present.
And, whether I like it or not, one of the BIG DEALS is physical performance. I think I wanted to deny that training and racing was important to me. After spending the majority of my life competing, I wanted to “break free” of the need to train and race. But… it’s in my blood. And I feel dialed in on EVERYTHING when physical goals are part of the equation. I touch on the transition from “slave to training” to “freedom from the need to train” to “I need to train again” in THIS POST.
So, I encourage you to take some time and reflect on what you want. What makes you happy. And how to construct a life that gets you there.
The things that ensure your long-term happiness may sacrifice short-term pleasure. But in my opinion, that is a sacrifice that is well worth it.