I recently learned the difference between happiness and joy. Brené Brown defines them in her new book Atlas of the Heart: “Based on our research, I define joy as an intense feeling of deep spiritual connection, pleasure, and appreciation.” Meanwhile, happiness is “stable, longer-lasting, and normally the result of effort. It’s lower in intensity than joy, and more self-focused.”
Joy is fleeting, carefree—an instant spark. It is what I notice in my goddaughter, Luna. I’m watching her prance through endless tulip fields: shades of pink, coral, purple and yellow line endless rows of beauty. She shows me what embodying joy means. It is visceral. Her arms flap, her smile widens, and her body hops up and down as she launches into a two-year-old toddler sprint. Wobbly, yet determined, she squeals with excitement row after row.
When she figures out how to get to the skinny, dirt path between the tulips to run the entire length of each row, I lighten my mental load and loosen my shoulders. I’m brought to this very present moment chasing after her. She is boundless. Her joy cannot be contained. The spectrum of color matches her energy, a vast array of brightness on this overcast, cloudy day. We are bundled in sweatshirts and jean jackets, anxious for warmer weather.
She stumbles and giggles and flaps and flaps and flaps. Luna is a reminder—one we all need—that joy is available to you every day, every moment.