Friday, 6 March 2009

by Silumesii Maboshe

I have an exercise for you to try with the next person you interact with. Ask them these two questions:

  1. What makes you happy?
  2. What gives you joy?

If you can, take the time to actually listen to what their responses are. The questions are simple. The answers, most likely, will not be. Are the two questions the same? More specifically, what is the difference between happiness and joy?

One of the criticisms of The Pursuit of Happyness was that it seemed to suggest that money makes us happy. The pursuit of money for its own sake is insatiable. On achieving a financial goal, we quickly set another more lofty one. I am not trying to be facetious or naive. Money is important but do we ever stop to think about “enough”?

I have not figured this one out yet, but I think that happiness and joy are very different creatures.

Happiness seems to come from an immediate state of being—I am happy because I just had a great meal, I am happy because my client is excited about my design proposal, I am happy because I got to see a good friend today. With happiness, there always seems to a condition that needs to be satisfied. Happiness is about satisfaction. Take away the condition and happiness dissolves with it.

Joy, on the other hand, is about contentment. Contentment understands “enough”. I am joyful. Full-stop. No precondition. Joy is an incredible motivator and a source of strength. It can see us challenge incredible obstacles and emerge victorious!

The intertwining between joy and happiness is intricate. It is possible that we are most joyful when we are most happy. I am, however, particularly interested in exploring what happens to joy in the absence of happiness. The application to Freelancer’s and Small Business owners is obvious. These are people who choose uncertainty and give up sure reasons to be happy. How can Freelancers cultivate joy? Where does it come from?