Difference between pleasure and joy

by Shannon Ables
Eastern Oregon writer
The Simply Luxurious Life

One of the most empowering realizations we can make about life is to understand that so much of what we seek to create a fulfilling life already resides within us and is within our control, rather than outside of us and beyond our control.

When I finally came to understand this life lesson, a huge sense of relief washed over me. And while it was something that I knew subconsciously as a young girl, as I became curious about the world and began exploring upon leaving my parents home, I seemed to have forgotten such a vital concept necessary for the dream I sought – fulfillment.

Throughout my twenties and even late teenage years I sought far too often the acceptance of others and the consumer goods of retailers in hopes that they would lead me to the contentment I desired. Thankfully, a handful of lessons (many of them small, yet quite powerful) demonstrated that life is about going within to discover the contentment we seek rather than gobbling up more from the outside world.

The jockeying back and forth from the inner and outer worlds of ourselves is what brings me to the difference of joy and pleasure. Pleasure, while fleeting and often elusive, is sought by humans for a reason – it makes us feel euphoric, somewhat removed from the present moment. However, because it is something that we seek outside of ourselves, we don’t have complete control over it, if any at all.

Joy, on the other hand is a pursuit that requires that we dive deep within ourselves. It is something that cannot be taken away and is something that builds like interest once we become better in tune with ourselves as we learn to discover it within our thoughts, being and existence in this world.

Ultimately, while pleasure may cost money, it is rather easy to attain, and it doesn’t add to the quality of our lives but rather adds excerpts of exclamations points along the way. Joy, on the other hand, requires of each of us more time, attention and thoughtfulness, but the rewards are enormous because of their durability and substance.

Now, I would not go as far as to say we should eliminate all pleasure from our lives. After all, a decadent meal, a beautifully tailored outfit or an intimate moment with a loved one is what adds to the richness of our lives. (Click here and here for a few more of my favorite simple pleasures.)But when we aren’t clear on the difference between joy and pleasure, we can seek one all the while thinking it’s the other.

The key to creating a fulfilling life is building your foundation on joy and adorning it occasionally with pleasure. So long as we don’t rely on pleasure to provide us with contentment, we can appreciate it for what it is – a temporary moment to appreciate fully and not become attached to.

How to Welcome More Joy into Your Life:

1. Take time to meditate, pray and be still.

2. Look inward – become at peace with who you are, and celebrate your uniqueness.

3. Allow external inspiration (art, nature, music, conversation) to stir your inner creativity, and act upon those moments of inspiration – create, dream and act according to what is provoked within you.

4. Figure out your purpose/passion and then go pursue it

5. Be thankful for what you already have, rather than what you lack

6. Give when you have the resources, time and energy to do so

7. Pursue avenues/dreams that are meaningful and align with your values

8. Plan activities that cultivate more moments of joy – simple meals, gatherings, events that you are curious about, etc.

Knowledge is truly power. And when we understand the difference between joy and pleasure, we become less a feather in the wind being randomly blown from one pleasurable moment to the next, but rather an oak tree that may bend with the gusts, but is always rooted in what provides security and certainty.

Have a wonderful start to your week.

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