DEFINITION: Pleasure v. Happiness v. Joy


Have a nice day…


Those of you who have ever done something you enjoy will know the surge of emotion that it brings.  There is often anticipation leading up to the event, and then, when you are actually doing whatever it is, there is a rush of very good feelings.  Unfortunately, we often call this same set of feelings by different names and assume they mean the same things, when in fact, we should be differentiating.  When we fail to do so, we can fail to notice when our life is not on its optimal course.  Let me explain.

Doing things that we enjoy will ALWAYS bring us pleasure.   Pleasure, simply put, is our body’s way of telling us that we are meeting some basic need .  Abraham Maslow did a very good job illustrating what our potential human needs are in his hierarchy that he published in his 1943 paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation”.  The basic needs that pleasure accompanies are usually in one of the bottom three levels – Physiological, Safety, and Love/Belonging.



Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


The problem, however, is one of duration and alignment with Truth and Values.  What I mean by this is that if our current event is satisfying a need that is transient in nature (a bump in our terrain of truth), the pleasure is often what we term, “fleeting”.  That is, it’s gone as fast as it came.  We find such intense, but short-lived pleasure can be addicting and people will seek it out like a drug, going from one experience to another chasing that “high”.

Happiness is the next level of sensation and it is longer in duration.  It is accompanied by pleasure, but it is more.  It is the pleasure that comes from events that are based in correct Truths and accurate Values.  Happiness also accompanies the satisfying of basic needs, but these tend to be in one of the upper three levels – Love/Belonging, Esteem, and Self-Actualization.  Happiness is the 3-course meal to the Twinkie of pleasure.  It is not empty calories, but a satisfying feast.  Even that feast, however, has an end.  This leads us to our last definition:

Joy, is simply lasting happiness.  That is, when we organize our lives and create habits such that we continually (perhaps not all the time, but a majority of it) place ourselves in situations where our more complex needs are met, we create something approximating self-perpetuating happiness.  We have set the conditions where happiness is more likely to occur for us than not.  That consistent returning to a state of happiness (with accompanying pleasure) is joy.

The primary goal of a life coach should always be to increase the happiness and joy quotients in the life of our clients.  This begins with having an accurate understanding of Truth and Values, and then helping the client to align their lives and their choices with those Truths and Values.  Only then, can an environment of Joy be created and become a life-foundation.

Spend time figuring out what your deep needs are, and what satisfies those needs.  Then, construct your life in such a way that those activities are planned around and do not take a back seat  to the superficial demands of the moment.  Create your own Joy.

– Josh Walles

The Mindful Life Coach


About The Mindful Life Coach

My name is Josh Walles. I am an Engineer by training that has worked in that field for several years. I discovered, however, that doing so did not really help people directly. I was not able to see fundamental change in anyone’s life for the better. It occurred to me that this change was something I wanted to help others achieve. After much research, this idea of being a Life Coach became a focus in my life. I love the feeling of helping other people to find happiness and peace in their lives and I want to do that as much as I can. Come take a look and see if I can help you make a better today at
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