Pleasure vs Joy: Finding balance for long-term happiness

It’s easy to confuse pleasure with joy – but they are two distinctly different experiences. Pleasure is temporary and derived from external sources. Joy is a feeling that comes from within and arises when we can appreciate a happy experience with full awareness. In our busy lives, it becomes easy to strive for the quick fix of pleasure, but we’re often left feeling empty because it doesn’t always support our long-term happiness. 

We gain pleasure from external things, such as fun events and parties – but joy comes from within. When a person who has very little material possessions can find happiness, then they experience real joy. A person who has everything but isn’t happy has no joy. 


Pleasure is an immediate and sensory experience – which is why our brains respond so positively to it in the moment.  Of course, pleasure has an important place in our lives and serves to help us maintain moments of happiness throughout our days. But this feeling is addictive, and, once the initial thrill of the momentary satisfaction wears off, we are often left yearning for more. This can result in a cycle of constant pleasure-seeking, disrupting the path to true joy and happiness. This constant pursuit of pleasure also allows us to escape reality and the underlying aspects of our wellbeing that push us to seek these temporary fixations.


On the other hand, joy is an enduring, internal state of wellbeing. It can not be disrupted by external circumstances, as it arises as the result of a deep inner connection with yourself, others and the world around you. It takes a lot of focus on feelings of gratitude, purpose and fulfilment to really understand and experience the feeling of joy. 


Open your mind and incorporate some simple practices into your daily life and you will see how much more happiness you will feel in your life. 

  • Mindfulness: This is all about being aware and present in the moment. At least once a day, stop what you’re doing and take a moment to absorb everything you can sense. What can you smell and hear? Are your hands touching anything – and, if so, what textures can you feel? Doing this might feel silly in the moment, but it really helps your brain stay present and take everything one step at a time.

  • Gratitude: Practising gratitude helps instil a sense of positivity in your mind, so that you always revert to the bright side of things when life gives you lemons. Once a day, write a list of 5-10 things you are thankful for. It can be your family, the warm sun, the trees or water, your pets – whatever brings you joy in life.

  • Meaningful Connections: Build and nurture meaningful relationships with others. The joy derived from genuine connections surpasses the temporary pleasure of superficial interactions, which you can end up questioning.

  • Personal Growth: Invest time and effort in personal development. Spend time everyday doing hobbies and activities that make you feel passionate,
    Pursue activities that align with your passions and values, fostering a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

  • Embracing Challenges: Instead of avoiding challenges, view them as opportunities for growth. Overcoming obstacles and learning from setbacks can lead to a deeper, more resilient joy.:


While pleasure has its place in our lives, it’s important to recognise that long lasting happiness results when you focus on building a life that is full of joy, one that makes you smile.  By embracing practices that foster gratitude, meaningful connections, personal growth, kindness, and resilience, you can embark on a journey towards a more profound, rewarding and lasting sense of happiness. Choose joy over fleeting pleasure, and you may discover a richer and more fulfilling way of living.


Live Life Get Active is building a fitter, healthier and happier Australia and we want people to have fun along the way. With the help of Local Government and Corporate Australia we provide FREE health, fitness and nutritional education both online and in the parks, suburbs and cities of Australia.