The Meaning Of Joy

When we pose the question “What is the meaning of happiness?” we are often referring to the esoteric search for happiness. We are looking for something bigger – starting a discussion more profound – like the discussion regarding our collective purpose in life. My question here is more simple. Quite literally, what is the dictionary definition of joy?

Perhaps you’ve heard the (trite) anthropological/linguistic example that Inuits of the coldest regions of Canada have “30 words for ‘snow’ ” in their native tongue. The idea that the more our life experience exposes us to something the more appreciation we have for its subtleties — an appreciate that comes with vocabulary. Conversely, one of the first insults purists will give insult and marginalize is a lack of distinction. Such as ‘rap music all sounds the same’ or ‘they all look identical. This lack of specificity is related to a lack of exposure.

Recognizing subtlety is part of appreciating something, part of respecting something, regardless if you agree with it or not.

Tangentially related to this stream of consciousness, I’m curious at the subtle differences between words like ‘joy’, ‘pleasure’, and ‘happiness’ and curious about how learning more will influence my relationship with the concepts behind the words.

The Meaning of ‘Joy’  (And many other Words)

The New Oxford American Dictionary has the following definitions.

Bliss Perfect happiness. A state of spiritual blessedness, typically that reached after death.
Cheerfulness Noticeably happy and optimistic
Contentment A state of happiness and satisfaction
Delight Feeling extremely pleased
Ecstasy An overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement
Ebullience The quality of being cheerful and full of energy
Elation Great happiness and exhilaration
Enjoyment The state or process of taking pleasure in something
Euphoria A feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness
Exhilaration A feeling of happiness, animation, or elation
Exuberance The quality of being full of energy, excitement, and cheerfulness;
Exultation A feeling of triumphant elation or jubilation
Felicity Intense happiness
Gladness Emotion of being pleased / delighted
Glee Great delight
Happiness The state of feeling or showing pleasure or contentment
Joy A feeling of great pleasure and happiness
Jubilation A feeling of great happiness and triumph.
Pleasure A feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment
Rapture A feeling of intense pleasure or joy
Satisfaction Fulfillment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this


So What Does All That Mean?

Many of these words seem to be interchangeable. I’ll think for a bit about this and revisit this post soon. Soon I’ll examine a few of the core differences.

What do you think? Please post comments below.