“When we speak of experiencing happiness, we need to know that there are actually two different kinds. The first is the enjoyment of pleasure through our senses. […] But we can also experience happiness at the deeper level through our mind, such as through love, compassion, and generosity. What characterizes happiness at this deeper level is the sense of fulfillment that you experience. While the joy of the senses is brief, the joy at this deeper level is much longer lasting. It is true joy.” – the Dalai Lama, The Book of Joy

If you’re reading this, you are alive and breathing and care about your own well-being. You want to live well, whatever the cards you’ve been dealt.
But what does that actually mean? What would make this life of yours lived in the ‘best possible’ way? What does ‘well-lived’ refer to?

With a small step back, countless questions might bubble to the surface. Old cliches like “What is the meaning of life?” contain multitudes. With a pinch of curiosity, we can see variations of that cliche: other questions that hold equal relevance. (You can see a list of such questions here.)

Assess Your Factors of Well-Being

The AC is the most comprehensive tool of its kind on the web.
With it, you can measure over 50 factors of well-being (and hundreds of subfactors) to find your strengths, capabilities, and growth zones.

Signing up will also give you access to a HUGE amount of exclusive pages and resources across this site.

In any given moment, we want to feel happy.  However, a life of constant positive emotions seems sort of…incomplete (not to mention impossible).

This site covers the broad range, in both breadth and depth, of living life well. Every page on every subject is its own testament to the skills and experience of living life fully, not just full of happy moments.

This page in particular is about that particular experience of both positivity and depth—happiness and purpose—which we call Joy.

Via polyp.org.uk

What Is Joy?

Colloquially, people often use the word “happiness” to refer to the over-arching well-being that one aims to achieve in life.

In this site’s section on “happiness,” it’s discussed how this broken concept unfortunately conflates happiness (pleasurable feelings) with overall psychological well-being.

Who’d have thought that the pursuit of a good life could come with such a fundamental quagmire?
Well, language can be that way.

For clarity and as a service to society’s colloquial woes, this site goes into detail about how to conceive of “happiness.”

The “Happiness” Section

Learn about well-being from a bird’s eye view. Understanding its four essential elements and more.

The Glossary

A straightforward delineation of terms for the words used on this site.

Happiness vs. Joy

A deeper exploration of the semantically important distinction between these two terms.

The gist of ‘Joy,’ as opposed to happiness, is this:

A feeling brought by external factors. A temporary positive affect. An experience of pleasure.

A sense of deep satisfaction upon reflecting on how our life is going. Choosing to rejoice in our current situation. A positive sense of relating to our experiences as meaningful, even if unpleasant.

Joy is the result of Perspective, Meaning, and Purpose. Happiness is more like Pleasure, Flow, and Engagement.

You can learn more about the 4 elements of well-being and how they interplay here:

The take-away message here is the same as for this site overall: an optimal life is one with not just happiness but Joy. And that means a life of more Meaning and Purpose.

In fact, Happiness can be a hindrance to a deeper experience well being. If you’re curious about the in’s and out’s of this happiness trap, check out that section.


What’s the difference between “Flourishing” and “Joy”?

Well, colloquially (again, let’s be cautious not to muddy the waters of collective understanding), they are both helpful words for referring to the deeper sense of a well-lived life. Used like this they are interchangeable. Flourishing, like joy, is a word that signals “We’re not just talking about feeling good, here! We’re talking about that thing we’re all after!”


For clarity, it bears mentioning that “Flourishing” has specific roots in Positive Psychology.

The word Flourish was widely adopted in Martin Seligman’s (often described as the founder of Positive Psychology) second groundbreaking book, Flourish. Part of the very reason for the book was to shed some clarity on the broken concept of “happiness” in mainstream Western culture.

“I actually detest the word ‘happiness,’ which is so overused that it has become almost meaningless. It is an unworkable term for science, or for any practical goal such as education, therapy, public policy, or just changing your personal life. The first step in positive psychology is to dissolve the monism of ‘happiness’ into more workable terms. Much more hangs on doing this well than a mere exercise in semantics.” – Martin Seligman, Flourish

In Flourish, Seligman proposed a model for human well-being that now persists in popular and academic conceptions of the good life: PERMA+.

You can learn more about PERMA and other helpful models of well-being circulating in psychology circles here:

So, Flourishing as a word requires some context too. Used loosely, it means the same as Joy, explained above. And, it can also specifically refer to optimal living in Seligman’s model of well-being. It is worth noting that Seligman himself, while proposing PERMA+ as keys to living well, still often uses Flourishing loosely, as Joy is used here.

Via smbc. Wondering about the meaning of ‘eudaimonia’? Then click here.

Where To, Now?

Oh, the places you’ll go!

Hopefully, this page has already inspired some curiosity. Hopefully you’re asking a slew of new questions. Namely:

“Ok, but how?”

We want a life of Joy / Flourishing. And achieving that is quite a journey. (Well, the journey is the achievement).

This site is jam-packed with the tools, resources, models, and ideas to most impact your well-being. What makes it unique is that it will take you deeper into not only the why but also the how.

Most big topics of well-being have their own section. You can get the most out of each section by reading through, doing the practices and exercises along the way, and using the resources to jumpstart more research around the web.

If you haven’t already, you can check out this page to orient yourself to the site and its tools:

And if you only do a few things on this site, let them be these:

Learn Why Meaning Is Key to Flourishing

Check out the infographic, read the Why Meaning page, and learn about the 4 Cornerstones of Meaning.

Assess Your Factors of Well-Being

The Assessment Center is the most comprehensive place on the web for testing aspects of your well-being. You can measure 50+ factors and hundreds of subfactors to learn your strengths, capabilities, and growth zones.

Learn How Happiness Can Hinder Joy

There is an entire, detailed section on the ins and outs of Happiness as a Hindrance. Check it out, and watch the below video from the section, which well captures some models from the site.

And if you are going to walk away from reading this and do ONE THING, today, let it be this:

Invest your time and energy in deep, positive relationships. 

“Positive relationships are the single most reliable predictor of well-being, across life domains and life stages.” – Martin Seligman, Flourish

Check out the Love section for tips on friendship, romantic relationships, and more.