Home BlogJoyful Eating How does joy differ from pleasure?

How does joy differ from pleasure?

by Tansy Boggon

Joy differs from pleasure in that pleasure is derived from an external source while joy arises from within when we bring our full awareness to the experience.


We may think of joy and pleasure as interchangeable.

Yet pleasure is the enjoyment we experience from something external to us. So, eating cake can be pleasurable. A sunset can be pleasurable. Sex can bring us pleasure.

These experiences of pleasure arise from stimulation or input from outside of ourselves.

Yet, in the next moment, we can feel guilt and shame, self-loathing or resentment, especially if we feel we didn’t deserve this pleasure; we took pleasure only to escape our thoughts or situation; or to fix ourselves, fill a void or to feel we are lovable. So, in this way, pleasure is our use of a substance or object to feel good.

And in most instances, there is nothing wrong with that. Pleasure sure feels damn good! Yet that is not joy.

How joy differs from pleasure

Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into the world from deep within you.”—Eckhart Tolle.

Joy differs from pleasure in that joy is what we bring to the experience of eating that cake, watching that sunset or making love.

Joy arises when we are fully present and feel connected to who we are without the attachment to labels and rules that lead to guilt and shame.

So, joy is taking the time to witness that sunset without distraction. Joy is when we are fully present with a sexual partner without self-consciousness or thoughts of what we should or should not be doing. Joy is eating that delicious cake, relishing every mouthful without thoughts of food rules or future consequences.

Let’s bring joy to the experience of eating

So, unlike pleasure, it is my view that joy is sensed as a feeling of harmony, playfulness, freedom and expansiveness. Joy reverberates through our entire body as we feel a sense of aliveness in the moment and connection to ourselves. Joy can be experienced as a sense of lightness, freedom—physically and emotionally, or energy moving through us that gives rise to laughter, a skip in our step or a full out happy dance.

And it is that joy I want to bring to the experience of eating with Joyful Eating.

Want to learn more about bringing joy to your eating?

You may enjoy these blogs or grab a copy of my book, Joyful Eating: How to Break Free of Diets and Make Peace with Your Body.

Joyful Eating Book Banner

You may also like

Leave a Comment