Pause . . . to Help Joy Stick

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”
– Joseph Campbell 


Following on from my last post – What Makes You Happy?  – I decided to explore the concept of Joy.  Many people, including myself, tend to use the terms happiness and joy interchangeably, but one psychology website describes the difference as:
Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience, but are very different. Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is often based on other people, things, places, thoughts and events.


Tara Brach describes joy as the aliveness and openness that occurs when we let ourselves be available to the whole play of existence. It’s a natural capacity, in our wiring, and it can be cultivated.

Joy comes from a habit of thinking and can be a contributor to our bio chemistry. We sustain a joy set point, as it were, based on what we think about and focus on.

Deepak Chopra explains that when you activate a positive belief, your cells get the message.


One way to cultivate joy, is through gratitude. Studies have shown that gratitude changes the body/mind chemistry. So when you have an experience and you feel good because of that experience, take time and allow yourself to feel good; PAUSE and let it sink in — ‘install it.’

Rick Hanson suggests that we try to take in the good and make it stick. He explains that in order to create the trait — make it ‘stickier.’ Taking that time to pause gives it this stickiness.
“Scientists believe that your brain has a built-in “negativity bias.” In other words, as we evolved over millions of years, dodging sticks and chasing carrots, it was a lot more important to notice, react to, and remember sticks than it was for carrots.

That’s because — in the tough environments in which our ancestors lived — if they missed out on a carrot, they usually had a shot at another one later on. But if they failed to avoid a stick — a predator, a natural hazard, or aggression from others of their species — WHAM, no more chances to pass on their genes.

The negativity bias shows up in lots of ways. For example, studies have found that:

1. In a relationship, it typically takes five good interactions to make up for a single bad one.

2. People will work much harder to avoid losing $100 than they will work to gain the same amount of money.

3. Painful experiences are much more memorable than pleasurable ones.

In effect, the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. That shades “implicit memory” — your underlying expectations, beliefs, action strategies, and mood — in an increasingly negative direction.”

So with that negative bias in mind, we have to work a bit harder to push positivity into our implicit memory. But it is absolutely possible.

Some people quote Buddha as saying: “I wouldn’t be teaching this if genuine joy and happiness were not possible” I’m not sure if Buddha actually said that, but in the Karaniya Metta Sutta, Buddha did say

“Whatever living beings there may be — feeble or strong, long, stout, or of medium size, short, small, large —

may all beings have happy minds.”

So today, let’s work toward that happy mind, let’s choose joy and make it stickier.

I’ll close this post with a wonderful talk and meditation about Joy by Tara Brach. It’s a longer video, almost an hour, but well worth the time.  If you don’t have time to listen now, at least listen to her opening joke in the first couple of minutes.  It made me laugh.


I’d love to hear what brings you joy, and how you differentiate between happiness and joy.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

12 thoughts on “Pause . . . to Help Joy Stick

  1. Patti, as predicted, the invitation to explore joy awakens more in me and resonates as a higher, more fundamental aspiration than happiness. I appreciate the context you offer with your references that get to something more primal in the nature of joy.”Good” experiences pass quickly because they represent brief periods of relief from struggle or mementos of easier survival. “Bad” experiences linger because they are reminders of peril and morbidity that cannot be safely ignored or forgotten. No number of “happy” moments can make it safe enough to dismiss the danger that is cellular from pre-historic times or from childhood. This is a context that helps me make sense of the spiritual experience of my life and why I associate JOY with the God of my understanding. God as I understand God makes only two promises: I. to love me constantly with a grace that has nothing to do with ‘deserving’ even when I do not love myself, and 2. the promise that I will never face my life alone in any circumstance. Happiness is circumstantial. Joy reflects the quality of life I experience in relationship with the divine. This provides the great incentive for those practices the quicken joy, like gratitude, compassion, generosity and the courage to bear witness. Joy is what makes life a gift. Happiness briefly makes it easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Once again Scott, I so appreciate the time and focus you put in to your responses to my posts. I am humbled by it. That context helps me make sense of my spiritual experience and of my life in general. The more we learn about trauma and the brain, the more sense this makes.
      I like your comment, ‘Happiness is circumstantial. Joy reflects the quality of life I experience in relationship with the divine.’ That fits for me too.
      Again Scott, gratitude for your words and your energy. I so appreciate it.


  2. Dear Patti,
    The gratitude habit that you have passed through Lukas to me has made a real change in my life and it is hard to think hos to thank you. I have since given gratitude books to friends and family around keeping on the ripple effect of you great energy and magic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah Alicia this absolutely makes my heart sing! Thank you so much! I am so incredibly grateful that you are a part of my life now . . . a part of all of our lives. What a gift you are!


  3. You always share such wisdom, Patti! Thanks!

    [image: photo] *Michelle Cox* Author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series

    michellecoxwrites (dot) com

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I first saw the heading, I was thinking the other way round. Till I have to read to the end. I knew it was about joy and happiness.

    Am the type who reads very inspiring story, since it’s talking about JOY. I have to read and make my own view about it.
    For me am the type who engaged in such also. When I saw the post I didn’t waste my time in reading it instead I read it like a 5years old.
    You write and explaination are quite OK.
    I will use one of this write up in backing up what I will post and preach here on wordpress.

    Your beautiful words just made my day. Thank you so much for adding such magical drop of words in my jar of motivation and your views on JOY.I feel blessed by your writing and posting right now.
    I found delight love in what you just said in your post.
    Again such a beautiful write up on your blog.
    Keep the vibes on and grab a stick of JOY

    Peace ✌and Love ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks Mr/Mrs   for accepting and following my blog.

    I’m available to read your post at my convenient time.

    You have such an interesting topic I will love to read in
    your blog.

    I still remain  the simple blogger…..

    Peace ✌and Love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: April News | This Way Up

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.