Joy and happiness… not the same thing
It’s common to confuse these two terms and use them interchangeably, as if they were the same. While both are positive feelings, they are two different states.
Happiness is a deep feeling of bliss that can last over time. Joy, on the other hand, is a more fleeting, spontaneous basic emotion, and it could be considered a way to achieve happiness. In other words: an unhappy person may feel moments of joy, and a joyful person may not reach happiness.
The effect of joy on us and others
As an emotion, joy brings with it an organic response that generates chemical and physical reactions in our body, changes how we feel, and creates a feeling of pleasure associated with pleasant stimuli.
Do you know that joy works in a feedback loop? The more joyful we are, the greater our emotional well-being. That, in turn, brings us more joy. But that’s not all. Joy is an expansive emotion that projects high levels of positive energy and openness, and it also supports new personal connections.
A smile is the quintessential expression of joy. It is contagious, inviting mutual enjoyment of the moment when it is given and received. Who doesn’t like to see a spontaneous smile? Throughout the day, we have the opportunity to transform everyday situations (saying hello, good morning, having a coffee, offering or asking for help, doing a project) into much more pleasant, satisfying moments thanks to those smiles, which also help establish stronger bonds with others. Of course, all this also applies in the work environment.
Working with joy
Going through our entire workday with a smile on our faces would be nonsense, but it is important to know that it is possible to transform our experience at work through small doses of joy. These can undoubtedly help improve not only our physical and mental well-being and our levels of satisfaction, but also the work environment and our relationships with others.
Joy can come about naturally or spontaneously, but it can also be created by certain conversations, jokes, situations that promote healthy bonds, motivators, and more collaborative environments. Many studies have shown that laughing at work is highly beneficial, as it relieves mental burdens and is even associated with a slight increase in productivity.
Joy decreases stress by releasing adrenaline and endorphins into the brain; it boosts self-esteem, energy, performance, and perseverance. In fact, it is one of the key factors in achieving our long-term goals!
Leading with joy: is it possible?
Joy does not have to be at odds with rigor, demand, seriousness, responsibility, commitment, or pressure to achieve ambitious and challenging business goals. Quite the contrary: it increases our levels of engagement and stimulates creativity and collaboration, analytical accuracy, and productivity. Hence, leading with joy is not only possible but highly recommended. Joy helps relax the atmosphere without losing focus on goals, increase confidence, and build teamwork. And there is nothing better than healthy leadership that genuinely spreads well-being through small gestures that powerfully impact the mood among colleagues.
Who doesn’t feel joy after completing their tasks, giving the best of themselves, or seeing their goals met?
Work gives us the opportunity to develop our best qualities and thus feel satisfied and happy. We can train ourselves in joy in different ways: by getting to know ourselves, learning to think more positively, and being empathetic and assertive.
Joy and positive psychology
In a world where living with very high levels of stress is so normalized…
In a world where it’s not unusual to live with high rates of unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life…
In a world where, more than ever, it is necessary to stop and appreciate all the good around us…
Acquiring and developing personal resources to deploy our full potential and knowing how certain elements – in this case, joy – improve our quality of life can be of vital importance in overcoming critical situations, ultimately helping us live and feel better. In this sense, positive psychology has much to say: let’s not ignore the setbacks and crises that sometimes overwhelm us. But let’s value and accept the positive things in life, the things that are often taken for granted yet are so much more present and help us live better.
Living and working with optimism and a sense of humor, having good relationships with others, practicing kindness and gratitude, and nourishing ourselves with the joy that these and so many other little things in life bring us – these are a few good starting points to improve our well-being.