Happiness and joy are similar feelings. They are, also, very subjective so to some people the words could be interchangeable, but I'm going to distinguish them by describing joy as something a person experiences and happiness is something a person creates. Joy is the short game and happiness is the long. Joy is a quick burst of a positive feeling while happiness is a more sustained positive existence that can encompass one's life. Happiness is a warm sunny day. Joy is like diving into a lake on that warm sunny day. However, it's important to point out that they are not dependent on each other.
I'd almost describe the feeling which I'm calling "joy" as a natural phenomenon because it happens spontaneously and involuntarily. It literally happens to a person. They do not create it nor can they control it. It's like laughter. Laughter is the physical expression of joy. When someone laughs, it is practically out of their control. I say "practically" because if a person tries hard enough they can probably force themselves not to laugh. When someone makes us laugh, we like it. We, often, like the person, as well, because they "make" us laugh. Laughter is a similar phenomenon, like joy, because it happens to us. They go hand and hand, but joy has many forms as well.
Imagine that you are in the middle of a hopeless situation and even though you feel utterly miserable, a friend stops by and somehow finds a way to make you laugh. Your friend may not be able to save you from the situation, but for a few seconds they're able to give you a tiny little vacation from it. Something about your friend's sense of humor is able to tap into a part of you that, for some reason, you cannot access alone and this is where the laughter comes from. Of course, laughter is even more enjoyable when we're not in a miserable situation, but I use this example to demonstrate how independent of circumstances joy and laughter are. What if you could access this part of yourself whenever you wanted? Maybe there's a divine reason why we can't do this alone. We might lose ambition or not value our relationships with other people as much. I speak from experience when I say I have stumbled upon the true source of joy and I can testify to this fact everyday.
Many people if asked what they want out of life will say "I just want to be happy." When I was younger full of arrogance and blind ambition, I didn't know how to be happy. I certainly didn't experience joy everyday. All I knew was that I had a lot of goals and I guess by achieving them I thought I'd somehow become happy even though understanding happiness, itself, wasn't one of my goals. I guess I thought by being "successful" happiness would take care of itself. Now, I'm a failure according to this definition of success, yet I experience pure joy every day completely alone. It's the only friend that visits me on a regular basis. If that's not a phenomenon then I don't know what is. Happiness, on the other hand, comes later. Hopefully.
As I've previously stated, joy is not a choice. I have no control over this experience. It happens to me. I don't know how, when or why, but at some point, tomorrow, I'll be outside working and something random is going to happen and I'm just going to start laughing. This never used to happen. When I was younger, I'd spill something or make a dumb mistake and want to put my fist through a wall. My policy towards life was when things get hard, get angry and work harder. Now, I still work hard, but I go around laughing at everything, usually, myself, especially when I do something dumb. How did this happen? I'm sure people who knew when I was younger would have a very hard time believing this. I was tough to be around when I was working on something. This new way of experiencing life is not a result of some new, touchy-feely, higher consciousness view on life. It just happens. I have no choice in the matter. It spills out of me and I get to experience it. It's one of the best feelings in the world. I'm still climbing the mountain of life, alone, but somehow somewhere along my journey I stumbled upon this joy and I wish all people could experience it. Though I experience this phenomenon, it doesn't happen enough to fill my entire life. It is short and fleeting, but beautiful while it lasts. The feeling is even greater and more natural when I'm with people. This is why building happiness is the next challenge. Now, I'll tell you a secret of the source of joy.
I didn't discover it. What no one has ever told you or...speaking for myself, what no one ever told me was that it's always been there. We're born with this joy inside us and it never left. It is where laughter comes from when someone manages to tap into it regardless of how our lives are going on the outside or the state of the world. It's already there. Many of us have just lost access to its source. For the record, I barely ever used the word "joy" until this started happening to me, but I had to give it a name and people should know the truth. It is a fact and I am living proof. I don't deserve it any more than anyone else. All I do is experience it. If there's possibly one thing that I do differently than most people is I've refused to give up on this connection. I remember what it was like once. Remembering something and thinking about it are not the same thing. Why are children, puppies, kittens, etc. so fun to be around? Because they're full of joy. They haven't had time to forget. They're young and the link to joy hasn't been broken, yet.
I've been studying this phenomenon while it's been happening to me and the best conclusion that I've arrived at which might be hard for people to accept is that this is our natural state. We're born full of joy and then we're taught how to be unhappy. One common characteristic that all anthropologists observe in the personalities of the last remaining primitive cultures left on the planet is their child-like joy. I believe unhappiness is a form of mental illness. It's unhealthy learned behavior. We are taught to think this way. I believe joy and happiness are my natural states and all I have to do is build a natural life to support them. If you want to discover whether it's your natural state, too, then the truth in this book will help you get there.
Later, I will present the basic tools on how to get back to this place and how to maintain this state, but, right now, it's crucial to realize that joy is not a result of accomplishments, success, talent, intelligence, money, appearance or approval. Yes, it does require some work initially like moving boxes out from in front of a window that have been blocking the sunshine from coming in, but you can't pay or hire someone to do this for you. What blocks this light are the lies you've been told inside your mind. You can't do anything other than get what's in the way of the truth out of the way. It's no different than when a friend makes you laugh. You didn't do anything other than sit there and let it happen. When I started experiencing joy, I was broke, alone and freezing my ass off living out of a truck in Alaska. I didn't know a soul for thousands of miles and no one who I did know me knew where I was, not a very joyful existence, but, nevertheless, one day I let go of everything I thought I was supposed to be hanging onto and started laughing. I removed a negative thought and a positive feeling took its place. Joy happened. A person doesn't need to go to such physical extremes to begin this process. They can start anywhere. I experienced joy despite these circumstances, certainly not because of them. What I discovered is that some of the things on our tables have been put there by someone else. Get rid of them and you'll see yourself as well as the world more clearly. Rather than a relationship a person has with a friend, joy happens as a result of the relationship a person has with life, not a good life or a bad life. Just life. We've got nothing to do with life. We didn't choose to be born. Life happened to us and so can joy. Let it. It starts by clearing your table.