Pleasure Versus Joy: Do You Know the Difference?

Photo by Debra Moffitt
Photo by Debra Moffitt

by Debra Moffitt

If you do not know the difference between pleasure and joy you have not yet begun to live. – Thomas Merton

Everyone wants to find happiness, but what if there is something deeper, something more lasting? Happiness is good. It’s a wonderful feeling that comes from buying a new dress or eating an ice cream cone. It may be connected with having physical desires met, and experiencing physical pleasure, but happiness based on things and experiences can be fleeting and very temporary.

Joy dives deeper and lasts longer. It touches into the spiritual and comes from within. Bliss is the ultimate harvest of living a conscious life. It’s an experience that transcends the physical and according to wisdom traditions, it is our true nature.

If you want to find that path through the shades of happiness and joy to bliss, how do you get there? One way to begin is to cultivate your inner secret garden, that sacred space within you where  the seeds you plant can be cultivated and grow into a harvest of joy.

Some essential tools that help to dig deep and tend the inner garden include a regular meditation practice, a dedication to pay attention to and act on the guidance of your inner gardener – that higher, wiser part of you that is Divine – and a yearning to get rid of inner junk and pests that stand in the way. This junk is often old stuff from the past, including attitudes and habits that may have served us well at one time, but now just get in the way and hold us back. It’s time to let go of these and grow into the new life that’s waiting.

Copyright Debra Moffitt

Debra’s IPPY award-winning book, Garden of Bliss explores discovering the inner path of joy and wisdom.

Debra's book,
Debra’s book, “Garden of Bliss” won an IPPY Silver Medal award.

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Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at


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