A fellow writer - who I know asked me this questions and wanted me to give my take on the emotions. I think writers tend to split these kinds of hairs alot. You see, much goes into trying to get the characters "right" to make their emotions feel authentic to the reader. Nothing is worse I think than a well plotted novel, with wimp cardboard cut out charaters. Stock charters in my opinion are never a good idea, unless you are short on words or really trying to belabor a point.
So, my writer friend asked me to conteplate Joy vs. Happiness. Below is what I came up with.
Joy is event driven. I think we make the mistake and say certain things make us happy - but I think it is more correctly termed Joy.
Happiness is an over arching feeling. I think other people can bring you joy. Children bring people joy. Pets I suspect bring joy. Event can be joyful - like weddings, parties and the like are events centered around joy.
Happiness I think is centered deep inside us. We cannot manufacture it, no drugs can create the same feeling that true happiness brings us. Drugs might be able to manufacture the feelings of joy. But it is fleeting. It is not happiness. Joy is episodic. It has a beginning and a finite end. It might be associated with a feeling of elation, a burst of radiance. This is not to say that happiness cannot ebb and flow. I think it can burn brighter at times and be tempered at others.
I have struggled with happiness, on and off during my life. I have had many moments of joy. I think feeling joy is easier than sustaining happiness. Or maybe not - now that I am really thinking about it. I find myself being really happy now. I have done alot of work and I am at a place in my life where I am happy and peaceful and very focused - kinda Zen - there are moment - like a month or so ago where I went through a rough patch - but the roughness was not unhappiness - but rather an opportunity to grow, to expand and to reflect.
When one is truly happy - that is what rough moments become - times to grow, to expand, to reflect, to change and to come them better than before. Those rough spots become moments of joy I guess you could say.
I think that truly happy people tend to be positive in the outlook, open to new ideas, and willing to share quietly. Their happiness is often called an aurora or they bring good energy to a situation.