Up until eight years ago, I rarely if ever truly felt joy.  Sure, many times I was happy, but I don’t believe that happy and joy are synonymous.  If the famous chef, Emeril Lagasse were asked about the difference, he might say that joy was, “Happy kicked up a notch.”

 

Happy means feeling contented or great pleasure.

 

Joy means emotion evoked by well-being, success, good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires – the expression or exhibition of emotion.

 

Not experiencing joy has a lot to do with how we are raised and what we personally believe.  Growing up I was taught to suppress emotions, so it makes sense that I rarely felt joy.  I didn’t feel much of anything!

 

What changed eight years ago to make me feel joy?  I began to let go of the beliefs I was taught.  Rather than stuff down feelings, I told myself that it was okay to feel.  In fact, it was liberating to feel!  It didn’t matter if the feelings represented a lot of sadness at first.  Once I allowed those feelings to come in, I found that facing them head on also allowed me to let go of them.  As a result, I discovered there was joy at the end of the process.  

 

A scary word in the definition of happy is contented.  Many people fear change because they will be forced out of their comfort zones.  Happiness and contentment sound great but not at the expense of growing and moving into a state of joy.  To me, joy is a priceless emotion that I want to feel as often as I can.  Have you felt joy lately?