Pleasure vs Joy

Pleasure vs Joy

Simple Pleasures by Nico Time
Simple Pleasures by Nico Time

On a recent retreat, Lorn Hoff mentioned pleasure vs joy in passing. I thought it would be worth exploring this further.

First lets define the terms:
Joy, happiness, and bliss are associated with the 5th chakra, throat, bliss body, and the space element.

Pleasure is associated with the 2nd chakra, our animal nature, emotions, sex, and the water element. (Desire can add fire.)

Pleasure is very enjoyable but is only ever short term. If we chase pleasure, it can lead to excess. Moderation is key or we fall into addictions, attachment, and so forth.

We may seek pleasure to gain happiness but this is folly.

In contrast, joy can become ongoing and create lasting benefit. If we explore what makes us happy rather than what stimulates our desires, we can find lasting fulfillment. This is why Joseph Campbell suggested “follow your bliss.”

Joy is the signal of right action, life supporting choices, and natures support. Pleasure is a signal of short-term satisfaction.

When you say “I like…”, do you mean what gives you pleasure or joy? There’s a big difference between saying “I like Greek food” and “I like meaningful work.”

Pleasure does bring richness to life but if it’s not backed up by happiness, that richness will be unreliable. This seeds attachment and resistance leading to suffering. For example, we may enjoy dancing but if we stay out late overdoing, we’ll suffer the next day. A rich meal may bring pleasure to our senses but can upset the stomach and make us sluggish. Shopping may bring us short-term pleasure but if we can’t afford the purchase or it detracts from our goals, it becomes self-defeating. The net result of excess is suffering, not joy.

The monkey wrench is unresolved emotional pain. This creates a blanket over happiness. All too often, we compensate by seeking pleasure. Yet because of that addictive quality, there is then the tendency to overdo. Alas, the more we chase pleasure, the more we need to satisfy the itch. This reinforces its addictive qualities. Eventually it stops satisfying. And yet we may continue to chase it. Life’s richness dries up and we can become a reactive bundle of unmet needs.

We’re also surrounded by a culture that represses emotions and pushes pleasure as a solution. Comfort food, escape, and owning stuff. But what’s driving the bus? Do you possess your possessions or do they possess you? Advertising constantly appeals to our unmet needs. But this is not the path to anyone’s happiness.

The key is becoming conscious of these dynamics in ourselves. What triggers our reactive behaviour? When do we reach for the sweets or go shopping? When we can see the drivers and our patterns, we can heal our wounds. If we recognize the consequences of our choices, we can make better ones. If we follow our bliss (not pleasure) we’ll find the “happiness for no reason” within.

Moderation is the rule for pleasure. Less is more. Then we can enjoy without suffering. We can go dancing more often if we set healthy boundaries. If we can eat healthy foods we like, we make the body happy. We can follow a sensible budget that leads to long-term wealth. This is maturity.

If this seems unsatisfying, it’s not because of the lack of pleasure but lack of happiness. When happiness is present, moderate and simple things will bring pleasure without entanglement.

Happiness itself is innate. But we will not find lasting joy “out there” in people or things. Happiness is within and always present under the mind and emotions. If we can thin the clouds of unresolved emotions, it will become always present for us. When it’s reliable, there is no attachment. Joy is also pleasurable without binding.

The world around us is being recreated in every moment. Happiness is another way of experiencing this. That fine vibration of becoming is bliss. The world arises from bliss. Bliss is a way of experiencing our life force that keeps your heart beating and the world existing.

When happiness is present, quietly or loudly, it brings with it lasting satisfaction and well-being.

Find what makes you truly happy. If you’ve lost that, look to what brought you joy in your childhood. Follow where it leads you. That’s why you’re here. Find the fount of bliss within. That’s where you come from.

Last Updated on January 12, 2020 by Davidya

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  1. Vandana Bakshi

    Hello Davidya,

    I want to feel that happiness, joy or bliss. I don’t know what I should do for it. Sometimes I think meeting people or joining classes so I can be in company of other people can help. I feel I am not happy because I am alone a lot. I live in a small apartment which is cluttered with lot of things. I find it hard to get rid of them as I think I may need them. I can’t afford to buy same things again and again. So that is also the reason. I am very depressed and can’t afford a private therapist. So I feel stuck in lot of ways and can’t find a way out. I feel dying soon and being born again in a good family may be the way out. But that is also taking a chance. Please pray for me and bless me. You are enlightened being. Your healing energy can help me. I am very dumb and not smart enough. Many things you write I don’t understand and do not know how to use that information in my life. Please pray for my soul.


    1. Hi Vandana
      As i mention in the article, healing our emotions and resistance are how we uncover the happiness within. Also following what brings us joy. I’ve written various articles on how to do that. But what you need is more basic.
      I’ve noticed that people with repressed emotions tend to collect stuff as a kind of defense, putting some of the repressed energy into those things. The fear of letting go of our feelings is transferred into objects.
      Similarly, we avoid social contact as it can reveal how we’re repressed.
      But getting worked up about the stuff is just another form of repression. If we resolve the emotions, then the stuff will mean much less.
      Dying is not an escape. We carry our unresolved baggage forward with us. Birth in a good family is earned and chosen. Birth in a difficult family is the same. We choose what we need to work through it. Giving up just means doing it all over again, often with added weight. Better to see what we have as gifts and lessons to work on. Very challenging perhaps but you thought you could pull this off.
      Healing is not one of the gifts I’ve been given but I understand your challenge. I’ve been depressed myself.
      Perhaps you’d find value here:
      Understanding who you are and how to cope can really help.
      Your soul will be fine. It is eternal. Its your person that needs the help. Blessings.

  2. Kerri Heffernan

    I always feel as if you are taking directly to me. It’s funny how synchronicities work. Anyways, I was not finding joy in anything that I was doing. Ive actually been missing joy in my life for a long long time and been searching for it. I’ve done a ton of different activities trying to find something I like doing. I’ve been staying away from a lot of the foods I previously ate because of going on the Ayurvedic diet. So it could be because of that or in general I am constantly shedding. I feel like I am on this constant roller coaster ride of feeling intense emotions and releasing. Just when I think I am on a break from it, it comes back with vengeance. The triggers, feeling it and shedding I mean. Anyways, all of a sudden two nights ago I picked up a pencil and piece of paper and started drawing. I used to take private art lessons when I was a young girl about 10. I’m 44 now. I sat there for about two hours in so much peace drawing away and my drawing came out amazing. Better than I could have ever imagined. I feel as though another cloud was lifted enough for me to go back to drawing again. Thank you for your time and posts. Ps. I am so excited as I meet with Dorothy Rowe next week. I saw her at Buddha at the Gas Pump was listening to her and then you mentioned her too. I feel shifts in my body when I tune into her healings. Blessings.

    1. Hi Kerri
      That’s the Self speaking to itSelf. 🙂
      The funny thing is we have a joy that wants to express through us. When it doesn’t have an outlet, it causes discomfort to prod us. But, speaking from experience, we can be pretty dense. (laughs)
      Saw the movie Where’d You Go, Bernadette the other night. It was on exactly this. Only she became a menace to herself and those around her, essentially because a bad experience had pushed her away from her outlet.
      Ah wonderful. We chat periodically but I’ve not met her in person yet. And yes, I notice the shifts too. Sometimes, I can watch her work in the collective. 🙂

  3. Kerri Heffernan

    I am dense alright, lol.

    I will have to check out that movie. I love watching movies I can relate too. Especially the ones when you can tell the ideas came from presence. Like Avatar and the new Toy Story which is all about the self and conditioning. There are a lot of them actually now that I understand.

    As far as Dorothy goes… you can feel the shift in the collective when she does her healings at times? That is really fascinating.

    1. Hi Kerri
      I refer to myself as a slow learner. 🙂
      Yeah, Inside Out was a fascinating exploration of emotions and our internal structures. There’s a whole book listing movies with a spiritually related backstory.
      Yes, I can feel shifts in the collective. But moreso, when she more directly works on the collective of the group, I can participate. It’s a kind of holding subtle space. Usually only in the longer healings. The short ones where she touches into being and shares downloads, etc are different. It varies widely too – some places I’m clearer than others.

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