Joy versus Pleasure

17 02 2017

hammonnasett-01-2017February 17,2017

I have been waking up with a smile on my lips and a song in my head. Seriously! Today, it was Walking in a Winter Wonderland. I attribute this to an abundance of Joy coursing through my body and heart. It caused me to wonder and contemplate the difference between Joy and Pleasure.

windsor-locks-cherry-magnolia-sundaePleasure comes from eating chocolate ice cream. The physical sensation of cold on my tongue, the absorption of chocolate into my system, and the challenge of getting every last drop all provide a deeply satisfying pleasure. Other pleasures arise from keeping-up-with-the-Jones’s accomplishments: owning an Olympic size pool, a fancy car, Stuart Weitzman shoes, or a McMansion. Materialistic items that simplify one’s life (refrigerator, blender, and lawn mower, for example) can bring one pleasure, particularly by limiting the amount of time spent on “work” and freeing one up for more time for pleasure. Pleasure comes from outside of us, bringing something to us, something that disappears over time, or something that can actually damage us (in the case of drugs or alcohol or certain types of sexual activities).

gma-and-ori-at-hammo-06-14-15By contrast, Joy is a sensation that arises from inside based on a sense of well-being, of belonging, having a mission, a purpose. Connecting with others at a non-superficial level, a feeling of aliveness. Of doing the Right Thing, not for any reward or recognition, but from an inner moral compass that knows what needs to be done. Joy is something you own, regardless of what happens to you, what others say or do. Joy may be quiet and subtle or loud and rambunctious, but it is a vibration and sensation that fills us with…well, Joy!

Joy is when you look out and see the clouds racing across the blue sky and feel expansive. It’s standing at the edge of the ocean shore and hearing the rippling of the water on the rocks and knowing that you belong. It’s the clarity that we are all connected, our lives are intertwined with every living being.

I’m not suggesting that Pleasure should be avoided. Certainly, it’s much better than experiencing pain or sorrow. But I do wonder if Pleasure attempts to satisfy the need to feel whole and happy. Usually, fulfillment from items that bring Pleasure is fleeting. We want more often and bigger ones of whatever it was. But the satisfaction that comes when we are suffused with Joy brings a deep-seated contentment and an ability to flow with life as it presents itself.

branchesTo quote one of my favorite teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh: How can you remember to smile when you wake up? You might hang a reminder—such as a branch, a leaf, a painting, or some inspiring words—in your window or from the ceiling above your bed, so that you notice it when you wake up (Peace is Every Step). To have that Joy throughout the day, with such a lovely beginning, is a true gift.

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4 responses

17 02 2017
Susan Scott

What a lovely distinction of these two Beth – and the elaboration on fleeting pleasure – and that it ‘…may satisfy the need to feel whole and happy’. Makes me think of Freud – the pain and pleasure principle, i.e. that we avoid pain and seek pleasure (actually I could be a bit way out on that – end of week, brain a bit fried).

That feeling of contentment – joy – the waves of the sea, seeing a child playing on the sand or in the sea as in your photo, and feeling that there is something sublime in the world – thank you for this lovely post. And have a great weekend!

18 02 2017
Beth Lapin

So glad it made sense to you! We have a long weekend (Presidents Day on Monday), so it will be extra great!

17 02 2017
cherylczuba@comcast.net

Hi Beth…This is wonderful..It makes me think of our discussion of happiness …Happy in Haddam bumper sticker which I never put on my car because I could never feel total happiness while poverty, prejudice, injustice, wickedness, greed, etc exist.

Please keep them coming..

xoxo Cherry

18 02 2017
Beth Lapin

Thanks for your thoughtful choices

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