The Realization of Joy

The Pursuit of Happyness, featuring Will Smith, is based on a true story of a man by the name of Gardner. One of my favorite movies, it highlights a man who makes a risky investment and fought for a competitive corporate position to support his son. Obstacles continued to arise from his wife (and the mother of his child) leaving him to hopping from homeless shelter to homeless shelter. But, ultimately he reached his goal and found happiness in the journey of it all.

Ironically enough Happyness was the name of the daycare where the main character left his child early on, but it was a significant symbol of the pursuit of it all. If you haven’t, watch the movie. This post will leverage it’s perspective to quantify the construct of joy. Let’s talk happiness though.

Happiness (n): The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires

We all have experienced happiness at some point in time. From eating that ice cream cone, to getting an A on a test, to marveling at a first date gone well, your happiness at any given moment is directly correlated to what you go through and/or what you have. Happiness can be deemed both volatile and temporary. Hedonic adaptation can be described as humans quickly becoming accustomed to change and normalizing based on that stigma. We tend to fall back to a level of happiness unchanged from prior state.

Say you have a choice between two vehicles. One 10 year old Nissan Altima and a brand new Mercedes-Benz. Purchasing the Mercedes will most likely drive more happiness the moment you drive it off the lot versus getting the keys of that Altima at a used car dealership. You may admonish the beautiful interior trim and smooth ride that the higher quality vehicle has to offer. The voice activated interface woos you as the car color even matches your eyes. You start to look around to see if others notice on your daily commute and get a few head turns. Weeks go by and that initial happiness begins to decline as you become accustomed to the once new situation. However, something has changed. Your expectation for happiness with respect to cars is now at par with that Mercedes. And it’s really hard to go back that Altima you considered in the first place.

This adaptation can be noted in multiple areas of your life. Think of the home that you live in or even how you entertain yourself. Happiness tends to be very sensitive to new upgrades in life. But these are short lived and you ultimately become desensitized to what you actually have. Even worse, your happiness can deteriorate more if you attain and then lose something of higher quality. And this is just considering your own perspective with your own valuables. Start to throw in the things owned by the lives around you and your head is spinning. In a comparative rut, you struggle to redefine the happiness that once was.

Joy (n): A state of happiness

Joy is a sustained overwhelm of emotion that coats the things you experience on a daily basis. Joy can define your outlook on life. It is not what you go through, but how you respond to it all. As you can imagine, it can be hard to move the notch of joy in one’s own life by yourself.

Perspective feeds the framework of joy. Take yourself for example. Dig deep and think of your lowest low in life. I quantify joy at any given moment as the discrepancy between that lowest low and your current state. You find yourself thankful and fortunate that you are not close to that low point even though you may not be at your high. Take that one step further and start to add the experiences of those people that you know and even those people that you know of. The amount of joy that would be produced is exponentially greater to the previous case.

Many lose sight of the joy that they maintain in their lives and place more weight on this idea of happiness in constant pursuit of what could be. They pride themselves as the victim as opposed to the victor. They substantiate claims around why life isn’t fair, yet woke up this morning with another opportunity to make an impact. They stare at a singular deformity without marveling in the entire mosaic. It is a mindset shift to humble yourself and to think just how blessed you really are.

As opposed to any pursuit of happiness, discover your own realization of joy.


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