The difference between pleasure and joy

Greenwich-Voices-JohnsonWhat if there’s something you just don’t enjoy doing? Should you try to change it? Avoid it? Shift your attitude? Find something else? Shouldn’t life be full of pleasure?

Sometimes it takes recognition that there’s a force — the force of life — much bigger than the details we worry about so much. Like, whether someone is Jewish or Muslim or Christian or gay or married or single or rich or poor or a citizen or an immigrant or Republican or Democrat or black or white.

Those are just details. The force of life, which existed long before we humans did, has no preference or concern about those superficialities. Whatever you choose to name it — God, Allah, Buddha, the Universe — that force created you and me as expressions of itself. This is worth repeating. We are all beautiful expressions of life.

To help us recognize its presence everywhere, life leaves behind “breadcrumbs” to guide our way, helping us to remain conscious of its presence. Yes, it’s possible to live without being conscious of life. That’s a common affliction; it causes madness, disease, pain, and suffering.

Meanwhile, life’s pointers are also everywhere. Just like life itself, we can’t actually see them. However, we can recognize their existence. All it takes is a moment. So, what are they? Love, peace, stillness, beauty, and joy to name a few. Notice, these can’t be seen. But they are here, there and everywhere regardless of how we toil or what we care about.

So, what’s this got to do with not enjoying something?

It has to do with the difference between pleasure and joy. No, they’re not the same. Pleasure comes from the external. Joy is from within.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with pleasure, thrills and fun. You can get these out of many things. Joy, on the other hand, is not what you get out, it’s what you put in. Joy comes from within, and it flows out of you into whatever you are doing. If something isn’t enjoyable — a relationship, a community, a job, or a chore — put joy into it. En-joy it. How? By first accepting what “is,” so you can give 100% of your attention. It’s a choice.

The difference? You can buy pleasure, but you can’t buy joy. This explains why so many people, despite having many things, are yet still without joy. Meanwhile, the joy you put into your actions flows out to the entire universe.

Fear, anger and hate and other common states of unconsciousness, on the other hand, don’t exist everywhere. They’re the by-products of man-made mental positions. Therefore, we can create them anywhere, even where they didn’t exist. However, this choice takes us off the path of life. No one can alter, block, obstruct, or resist the force of life without becoming irrelevant. Irrelevance without evolution causes extinction. However, when experiencing someone on the path to extinction, who is unwilling to evolve, you can still feel compassion. As my grandmother used to say, “I’ll pray for you.”

At this point in time, mankind is at a pivotal evolutionary shifting point that is thousands of years in the making. Life hasn’t changed. Our alignment to it is changing. We’re finally appreciating that alignment with life and its essence is not possible via force, accumulation, or rightness of mental positions but rather by leading from the heart with joy to create the world we want outside, from within.

Trust that. It’s the way of life. Your other option is to become extinct.


Claude Johnson is a local business owner, author, and former Democratic candidate for the Connecticut General Assembly. You may follow him on Twitter @claudejohnson and @blackfives.

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