What Is The Difference Between Happiness And Joy?

Cathy Cassani AdamsHappiness is a gift from a friend or a kiss from a child.

Joy is feeling love for someone and noticing when someone loves us.

Happiness is a day when things are going really well.

Joy is finding a way to laugh when things get too scary, or smiling at someone on the street, even when we are feeling heavy.

Happiness is a good beer and a great Chicago pizza.

Joy is realizing that we have access to food and water, all the time.Β 

Happiness is feeling the sunshine on a beautiful day like today.

Joy is knowing that the sun is always there, even when it’s cloudy.

Happiness is winning an award or getting a raise.

Joy is waking up every morning and doing what you love.

Happiness comes and goes.

Joy comes and goes, but it’s always a choice.

Happiness is an emotion, and emotions naturally change.

Joy is realizing, regardless of how you are feeling, that you are OK and things are going to be OK.

Happiness comes from things working out the way we planned.

Joy is knowing that the plan is bigger than our immediate desires.

Happiness usually comes from external circumstance.

Joy comes from inside; from being grateful and noticing what’s working.

Happiness is a wish.

Joy is a practice.

Happiness can be surface.

Joy runs deep.

Appreciate happiness.

Live joy.




Cathy Cassani Adams, LCSW, CPC, is the author of The Self-Aware Parent, the host of Zen Parenting Radio, a columnist for Chicago Parent Magazine, and a blogger for Chicago Now. She’s a self-awareness teacher and yoga instructor in her community, and she teaches in the Sociology Department at Dominican University.

Find Cathy on Facebook (The Self-Aware Parent or Zen Parenting Radio) and on Twitter (@selfawareparent or @zenparenting) and on her website www.cathycadams.com.

  • Susan

    Thank you Cathy. I love to practice gratitude -you make it easy.

    • Cathy Adams

      Hi Susan –
      I love to practice gratitude, too – I am working hard at leaning into joy, too. Thanks for your kind comment.

  • tianna cerone

    Really loved this, Cathy. It’s difficult to understand the difference between joy and happiness and you explained it in a way anyone could understand. Thanks!
    – tianna πŸ™‚

    • Cathy Adams

      Hey Tianna – thank you for the kind comment – I’m so glad this was helpful! I write to help myself understand, so it’s bonus that it helps you, too. πŸ™‚

  • Lisa Besaw

    Amazing insight, Cathy. I agree with you to my soul that “joy runs deep”. Recently, I’ve been given the opportunity to see the difference between happiness and joy in my own life; and I can only say that i know I’m blessed, even though I’ve experienced many challenging days, like we all have. If you find the joy within, than it sure helps every day feel more “cup half full, than cup half empty”. May you have a joyful day!

    • Cathy Adams

      Thank you Lisa – I agree, understanding joy helps me deal with fear – no matter what happens, I always have a choice how to handle it, I can always choose love, and I will be OK. And when I feel happy or have a happy experience, I am grateful, it’s icing on the cake. πŸ™‚

  • This is beautifully amazing, Cathy! You are light!


    • Cathy Adams

      You are light, too, and you made mine brighter with this kind comment. πŸ™‚

  • Kucki

    Beautifully said! I completely agree. That’s a lovely picture of you and you absolutely radiate joy! With much joy and love,Kucki

    • Cathy Adams

      thank you, Kucki – very kind of you!

  • Dede

    Loved, loved, loved…. thank you so much. Beautifully said.