The Differences Between Happiness and Joy — and Why You Need Both in 2023

Dr. Kevin Gazzara
5 min readJan 30
Joy and Happiness

Understanding the Differences Between Joy and Happiness

Happiness and joy are often used interchangeably, but they are actually distinct emotions with some important differences. Here is a closer look at the differences between joy and happiness, based on research.

Happiness is generally considered to be a longer-lasting emotion that can be sustained over time, while joy is typically more fleeting and intense (Tugade & Fredrickson, 2004). While Joy is often described as a more intense and powerful emotion than happiness, and it may be accompanied by physical sensations such as goosebumps or tears (Fredrickson, 2018). Happiness is often the result of fulfilling our needs and desires, while joy can be triggered by unexpected or surprising events (Fredrickson, 2018).

The Importance of Both Happiness and Joy

Research has shown that happiness is associated with prosocial behaviors, such as helping others and being more cooperative (Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999). Joy, on the other hand, has been linked to increased risk-taking and more exploratory behavior (Fredrickson, 2018). Both happiness and joy have been linked to increased well-being and life satisfaction (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005). However, some research suggests that joy may be more strongly associated with overall well-being, as it is often accompanied by feelings of excitement and a sense of being fully alive (Fredrickson, 2018).

Dissecting the Benefits of Happiness and Joy

Happiness is a state of well-being and contentment that can have a positive impact on both our personal and professional lives. Joy is a positive emotion that can bring happiness and a sense of well-being to our lives. Here are several reasons why happiness and joy are so important, supported by research:

1. Improved physical health: A review of over 200 studies found that happier and more joyful people have a lower risk of developing various health problems, including cardiovascular disease (Friedman & Booth-Kewley, 1987). Another study found that happier people have stronger immune systems and are less likely to get sick (Cousins, 1989).

Dr. Kevin Gazzara

CEO of Magna Leadership Solutions, Certified Positive Intelligence Coach, Management Expert, Professor, Speaker, and Author. Contact: