Monday, March 5

What does it really mean?


I have noticed over the years that I have a knack for giving completely new meanings to words. Considering English isn’t my first language this isn’t perhaps all that surprising, but it is rather ironic because I’m naturally quite conservative linguistically. Or I suppose you could say that I’m a bit of a verbal snob.

My man is Turkish and even though we’re both articulate and well-read at times some very confused dialogues take place in our home. Picture this: we’re happily chatting away in the kitchen while making dinner and I’ll say something containing a slightly unusual word. “Exactly what does that word really mean?”, he’ll ask. And whilst I think I know I often don’t, not really, it’s more of a feeling I have. This scenario could easily be reversed. It’s a case of the blind leading the blind.

Yesterday we were talking about the difference between pleasure and joy. And before you get any ideas, it was a very general conversation with no particular focus. Instead we were simply wondering if the main difference between the two is that pleasure is dependent on an outside source, and is always accompanied by pain of some sort (not a physical pain necessarily, but a wanting for more), whereas joy can be experienced completely independently and with no strings attached?

Examples of pleasure could be

  • A great dinner
  • A box of champagne truffles
  • Sex

Examples of joy could be:

  • A beautiful sunset
  • Or an amazing lunar eclipse
  • A wave of inexplicable happiness just washing over you

Do you agree? Is there a definite difference between pleasure and joy, and is pleasure always chased by pain?

11 comments:

sognatrice said...

Hmm...excellent question! I tend to think of joy as a step (or more) higher than pleasure--pleasure to me is something nice and comforting perhaps, but joy is...WOW! Clear as mud, right? Hopefully you'll get more helpful comments ;)

Joy said...

I have found through experience that joy often happens on the other side of great pain - mostly because once we've survived, we realize that we've grown. Inner joy is also separate from "happiness" because you can be both sad and joyful at the same time...

I think you're right when you say that pleasure extends from outside stimuli... and therefore is much different than joy.

Great question!

PS. What is your first language??

Annika said...

This is why translating is so difficult. I know a ton of words in English (and lately also in Italian, yay!) that I just don't know the best translation to - I know what it means, but I don't know how to best translate it.

Bearette24 said...

Interesting. Your entry inspired me to check dictionary.com:

pleasure: enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one's liking; gratification; delight. (i skipped the first definition, which was "the state of being pleased".)

joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.

So i think the difference is one of degree.

paris parfait said...

I don't think pleasure is always chased by pain - unless you're always looking for the next pleasure, right after the first is over. But I think joy is more outside ourselves - it's unexpected, as you said, washing over you. Good questions!

Edvard Moonke said...

I agree with bearette. instinctively, it feels as though they are the same thing, except that joy is a slightly elevated state of pleasure.

serrin said...

a buddhist would say that most pleasure (apart from the pleasures of meditation) is transient and thus defiles the mind - because you always want more of it.

for them, joy lies in acceptance.

they're definitely onto something, but i'm not giving up sex, chocolate or booze for anything.

Magda said...

To me, joy is more abstract and unexpected, it's a feeling that just takes over you, while pleasure is something more "planned".

PS. Nice post, and what a timing - I was just thinking about the language myself...

AMAZING GRACIE said...

Thank you for dropping by my site. This is a most interesting blog and I enjoyed it immensely!
I believe that joy is most intense because one can only know joy when one has been deprived of it,
such as seeing those beautiful roses after a gray, cold winter Hence, the association with pain. It might not be a physical pain but a pain of separation (?)
I'm one of those strange creatures who cries when I experience intense joy...

Lainey-Paney said...

To me...
joy is something I see in my son's face.
pleasure is something I experience.

I can experience joy too...but I somehow equate joy with something I see in others...

Gel(Emerald Eyes) said...

OOH, I love word play, word discussions, philosophy, and this post. Yes, I believe there is a difference between pleasure and joy. Pleasure is more fleeting to me as "in the moment" whereas joy is all encompassing, long-lasting, and can be more generous than pleasure.

I do not believe "pleasure is always chased by pain." No way. I think that is a terribly pessimistic saying.