Difference Between Joy and Happiness

Joy and happiness are emotions that are related to satisfaction. Considering that one refers to cause and the other to the nature of feeling, there are differences between them.

According to the author of Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger, the only difference between joy and happiness is that happiness is like a solid, and joy is like water.

Happiness is an emotion that mostly involves contentment and satisfaction, while joy is stronger and less common than happiness. Joy is more associated to a relationship with people, selflessness and personal sacrifice.

We often use the word ‘Joy’ when we are talking about religion and we generally confuse it with the term happiness. Joy is viewed as a spiritual state that may remain unknown to some.

Joy vs Happiness

The difference between Joy and Happiness is their causes. Joy is an internal sentiment that causes because of pure encounters, regards, appreciation, and gratefulness. On the other hand, happiness is an external emotion that happens because of natural happenings or unnatural occurrences. The joy endures depending upon beliefs. Contrarily, happiness is a provisional attitude that relies on outside factors.

Joy vs Happiness


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonHappinessJoy
Type of ExperiencesYou feel happy when you experience earthily experiences and have material objects. If you make good money, you can feel happy momentarily.Joy is a feeling caused by spiritual experiences and may come after you care for others or feel gratitude. You may feel joy through spiritual experiences or religion. Joy is contingent upon your belief system.
Types of emotionHappiness is simply a burst of elation derived from good happenings and well-being. As a state of mind, it fades away after a period of time but increases the feeling of joy.Joy is inward peace. It’s similar to personal achievement caused by piles of events that lead to periods of happiness. We can define joy as a mind-set, not a state of mind.
Time frameIt’s not permanent; its duration will last depending on the outward circumstances. It vanishes, which means it comes and goes. So happiness is not about feeling happy all the time. You’re only happy in happy times.It lasts longer than happiness and its duration will depend on inward circumstances. This feeling is developed with time. Joy can be more constant than happiness. It is more lasting, but not permanent. You remain joyful regardless of the events that may be affecting your life.
Materialistic – Non-materialisticHappiness is conditional and materialistic, meaning you need something physical to pursue it. You could’ve won the lottery but your happiness might disappear as you spend the money you obtained. Additionally, you may feel happy when you only invest in yourself.Joy is unconditional, non-materialistic, and independent from external things. You can relate it to money and material objects; however, joy is based on the experience in helping others with one’s resources. It is best to help others financially, instead.
DestinyDefinitely not the final destiny. Happiness is not something that hits your life to stay forever. Contrary to popular belief, happiness does not ‘come’ only due to fortunate events. Yet, good habits can boost your happiness.Can be considered as the final destiny: to be happy regardless of the happenings. Joy is the capacity to smile amid a terrible situation. Joy never reaches either; you build it yourself.
Other determining causesIt can be affected by people’s opinion. People can “ruin” our happiness with a comment they post or a reaction they have. We will be always influenced by what others think about us.Others’ opinions will always affect but not to the extent we don’t feel joy. Joyful people know how to deal with negative comments. This kind of person knows how to talk with problematic people and give an accurate response.


What is Joy?

Joy is a state of mind that makes the individual feel calm and happy despite the circumstances. It is not related to material objects or actions, but to belief systems. Joy is harder to understand than happiness.

Joy is seen as an elevator constructed with different “levels” of happiness to which you are taken for a small period of time.

Joy is a selfless feeling that makes us rejoice in others’ achievements and happiness. If you feel joy, you will be able to enjoy other’s achievements as much as they do.


What is Happiness?

Happiness may arguably be a temporary state of mind, a state of contentment linked to an event or an achievement. Such a definition shows us that saying “happy forever” is completely wrong.

Happiness is defined as a state, a sudden burst of pleasure that comes after an experience or personal achievement. Joy is seen as an elevator constructed with different “levels” of happiness to which you are taken for a small period of time.

Another definition describes happiness as a state of mind or feeling of fleeting contentment caused by an action we’ve done. This may include watching TV programs we like or dating someone we have been waiting for.

We associate happiness to a beautiful feeling, but it can be selfish if we do things that go against our principles just to get it.


Main Differences Between Joy and Happiness

  1. Researchers state that happiness may be the result of the feelings after doing great at work or any aspect of life; however, such description suits better with joy.
  2. We can feel momentarily bad when things blow. It happens likewise with happiness. We can feel happy when all is great, but joy is not dependent upon good or special moments.
  3. Even though happiness goes and comes. Joy, on the other hand, can stay for longer. It doesn’t come and go as easy as happiness does.
  4.  Experts also think it comes from genetic factors, while joy is mostly related to spiritual factors, belief, and religion. So both things may sound contrary.
  5. Although you enjoy every special moment, your moment of happiness will always pass. However, if you have joy in your heart, your bliss won’t vanish as special moments go.
  6. While it is impossible to be happy in the middle of the problem, you may feel joy with and without them equally.
  7. Joy is more lasting, while happiness can last minutes, hours, days, or even seconds.
  8. Joy may be the combination of all the happy moments we’ve had in life. Happiness is only limited to happenings and events.
  9. Joy is never associated to possessions or objects but happiness is completely materialistic.
  10. You can feel equally joyful when bored or tired stiff after toiling away at work. You may not feel that happy after so much work.
  11. It will be easier for you to overcome misfortune with joy. If bad luck comes upon you, poor of you, you won’t feel happy; you will cry a lot.
  12. Joy and happiness are valuable, but joy may represent a whole life and is not as elusive as happiness.
Difference Between Joy and Happiness


  1. https://www.happify.com/hd/what-is-happiness-anyway/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2997232/
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