The differences between happiness, joy and gladness1.IntroductionThe concept of happiness can be characterized by three separate prototypes, which all refer to happiness but each approaches the concept of happiness from a slightly different meaning. The differences reveal mainly in the intensity of the emotion. Therefore it is very interesting how these differences appear in the English language. It is important to see these differences because our society is based on happiness and to reach the main goal of ones life it is good to understand the differences in the conceptualizations of happiness.
2.The three prototypesThe source domain of the three prototypes are taken from the class notes of Emotion Language, from the study of Zoltán Kövecses: Emotion concepts: from happiness to guiltA cognitive semantic perspective and definitions form answers.com.
The first prototype is called joy which according to answers.com is an intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness and the expression or manifestation of such feeling. In other words, joy covers an immediate response of happiness. This means that this word is used to represent a sudden feeling that is self-enabling and comes from within .
The next type is called the existential happiness which is a major value in life that people want to reach. This is a general feeling about being happy, therefore it is expressed by the word happiness. In Answers.com this word is described as an agreeable feeling or condition of the soul arising from good fortune or propitious happening of any kind; the possession of those circumstances or that state of being which is attended with enjoyment; the state of being happy; contentment; joyful satisfaction; felicity; blessedness.
The last type of happiness is gladness, which is the less intense out of the three types. According to answers.com the word glad is experiencing or exhibiting joy and pleasure. This feeling can be explained in other words like gratifying, pleasurable, very willing, bright and cheerful.
3.The major differences in meaningAccording to the Internet joy and happiness are more commonly occur in the same context than joy and glad or happiness and glad so there are a number of studies and articles about happiness versus joy. The reason for this on the one part is that they have a close relation in meaning so it is not as univocal therefore many people does not recognize the differences or has improper thoughts about it. On the other part glad seems to be clearly terminated in meaning in the usage of the English language.
Accordingly, there are many conceptualizations about the differences between joy and happiness on the Internet. On the one hand, in a forum about happiness, the opinion of a person named Suviko was: joy is something you feel shortly, temporary moment, a passing good feeling. Happiness is having that for longer period of time and it is more general, not as much targeted feeling . This explanation perfectly reflects the differences between joy and the existential happiness according to the study of Kövecses. But as it appears in some articles on the internet, this is not the only realization that is considered as the concept of happiness and joy.
On the other hand, there is an essay about happiness versus joy which claims that happiness is fleeting and it comes from the fulfillment of ones desires, therefore happiness is dependent upon something while joy can be continuous and it comes from within . The main difference between the two conceptualization is the quantity of the feeling. In the first statement the duration of the feeling of joy takes less time than happiness while in the second statement joy lasts for longer. This proves that there are some differences in the conceptualization of the first two prototypes of happiness. Besides the differences the main idea about the intensity of the two prototypes reflects everywhere that happiness is more intense.
In his study Vic Lebouthillier writes that happiness comes from circumstances like buying a new car or passing an exam while joy is rather appears as inner thankfulness for the constants of life such as nature, freedom, relationships with people, or through having faith in something larger than ourselves . It is also mentioned that happiness is an automatic reaction of people for the happenings of the outside world. In contrast, joy does not come automatically, it is a learned reaction that people have to practice to live a complete emotional life.
This points to the fact that the main point in most of the articles on the internet is based on this idea: It is important to understand that joy is an emotion that arises from within us and is not affected by the things that happen to us. Instead of looking for external things to provide happiness in our lives, we must strive to find the joy within. We must educate ourselves about joy and work to enhance it in our lives.Gladness is the less intense emotional feeling from the three prototypes of happiness. In The Free Dictionary webpage it is pointed out that Glad often refers to the feeling that results from the gratification of a wish or from satisfaction with immediate circumstances: “Some folks rail against other folks, because other folks have what some folks would be glad of” Henry Fielding .
In another conceptualization gladness is rarely or never equivalent to mirth, merriment, gayety, and triumph, and it usually expresses less than delight .
According to these statements, it can be asserted that gladness is not only the less intense but it also lasts for the less period of time.
Another proof for this can be found in an essay of Margaret Paul where she discusses the differences between happiness and pleasure, and where pleasure is a synonym for gladness. She points out that pleasurable experiences can give us momentary feelings of happiness, but this happiness does not last long because it is dependent upon external events and experiences .
4.Differences in language usageThe English language is rich in the metaphors and metonymies about the three prototypes of happiness. The source domain of this section is from Zoltan Kövecses: Emotion concepts: from happiness to guilt A cognitive semantic perspective.
Happiness (existential happiness)Most of the happiness metaphors found on the internet come from quotations, poems and a lower percent can be found in non literary texts. Using the mappings of Kövecses I listed some of the metaphors that I found with the help of Google:1. Happiness is a fluid in a container: “Happiness is a positive cash flow.” – Fred Adler2. Happiness is warm: Happiness is a warm gun – The Beatles3. Happiness is insanity: Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination. – Mark Twain4. Happiness is light: Happiness is a Swedish sunset – it is there for all, but most of us look the other way and lose it. – Mark Twain5.
Happiness is up: trying to bump up our happiness – Steven Winn6. Happiness is an animal: Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you Nathanial Hawthorne7. Happiness is a rapture: We pretended we could get drunk on root beer, and sometimes on those July nights, I think we were. Drunk with happiness. – Lisa LibowitzJoyInterestingly I could find a larger number of metaphors or metonymies on the internet than about joy in non literary articles rater than literary texts. Therefore, in contrast to happiness, it was harder to find metaphors that could belong to the list of Zoltán Kövecses.
1.Joy is fluid in a container: then you will look and be radiant,your heart will throb and swell with joy The Holly Bible (Isaiah 60:5-11)a place of joy and peace so full that you need nothing else2.Joy is being off the ground: Now I know when your house gets destroyed you won’t be jumping for joy.3.Joy is warm: A blush of joy mantled on Lizzie’s face, and her heart swelled with happiness John Quine (The Captain of the Parish)4.Joy is vitality: As I watch my grandmother tickle and play with the kids, I see her eyes light up with joy. – Jennifer Mallett5.Joy is opponent in a struggle: When her sick friend saw her, she was overcome with joy.6.
Joy is a natural force: Ill flood your soul with the joy of cleanliness and the joy of discipline, which will redound to your good forever.7.Joy is a rapture: Inner success: Freedom from the identification with the mind and movement towards the ecstasy of the Truth . This will lead us towards our inner joy8.Joy is up: He who kisses the joy as it flies. Lives in Eternitys sunrise. – William BlakeOne of the greatest joys known to man is to take a flight into ignorance in search of knowledge Robert Lynd9.Joy is light: The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy. Henry Ward BeecherGladnessIt was the hardest to find metaphors or metonymies on gladness. I found that the word glad is often used in religious terms on the internet but these were not expressed by metaphors or metonymies rather it refers to the loving of God and it follows that it is expressed on a very simple way.
1.Gladness is light: Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks. – Samuel JohnsonLight up your face with gladness Judy Garland2.Gladness is fluid in a container: A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles. – Washington IrvingMay God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you. – Irish Blessing3.Gladness is being in haven: Nations and men are only the best when they are the gladdest, and deserve heaven when they enjoy it. – Jean Paul Friedrich Richter5.ConclusionSumming up the above, there are differences between the three conceptualizations of happiness in meaning and it also turned out that people are interested in these questions because it is important to understand these to live a happy life.
We also saw that the linguistic usage of happiness and joy are very similar to each other they still have that slight difference in meaning. From this point of view gladness metaphors were less frequent and were not as similar to the other two.
Courtney from Study Moose
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