Difference Between Joy and Pleasure

Key Difference – Joy vs Pleasure

In a general context, both joy and pleasure refer to the feelings of happiness. However, many people believe that there is a distinct difference between joy and pleasure based on their source. Pleasure is a broad range of mental states such as happiness, enjoyment, entertainment and ecstasy. Joy is an emotion. The key difference between joy and pleasure is that joy arises within you whereas pleasure is derived from something outside.

What is Joy?

Joy is a feeling of great happiness. Joy is an emotion that arises within you. Joy is derived from your own actions, not from the outside. For example, helping someone can bring you joy. It is the satisfaction and happiness you feel about yourself that is interpreted here as joy.

The pursuit of joy requires that we dive deep within ourselves. Joy can be found within our thoughts, being and existence. It is not built on material things and thus cannot be taken away. For example, you can donate all your worldly possessions and be still happy and joyful. This is because of the joy you feel about your actions and thoughts.

Although such distinctions are attached to joy, in a general context, the word joy can be used interchangeably with happiness or pleasure.

Seeing her again brought tears of joy to my eyes. → Seeing her again brought tears of happiness to my eyes. 

Mary brought joy to our family.  → Mary brought happiness to our family. 

Key Difference - Joy vs Pleasure

What is Pleasure?

Pleasure is a feeling of happiness, enjoyment, or satisfaction. Pleasure often refers to the happiness we derive from outside sources. For example, meeting a friend for lunch, buying a new dress, chatting with a friend, going on a trip, watching a film, eating your favorite food, etc. will bring you pleasure. Pleasure is not difficult to attain; you can attain pleasure although it may require spending some money. However, pleasure is considered to be a temporary feeling. It doesn’t add to the quality of life.

Many pleasurable activities are associated with fulfilling our basic biological needs such as eating, exercising, sex, etc. Appreciation of cultural artifacts and activities such as music, art, dancing, and literature also bring us pleasure.

Difference Between Joy and Pleasure

What is the difference between Joy and Pleasure


Joy is an emotion.

Pleasure describes a range of mental states such as enjoyment, happiness, and entertainment.


Joy arises from within an individual.

Pleasure is derived from outside sources.

Time period:

Joy is long lasting and affects the quality of life.

Pleasure is fleeting and doesn’t enhance life.


Joy can be derived from one’s own feelings and thoughts.

Pleasure can be derived from fulfilling one’s wants and desires.

Image Courtesy:
“169286” (Public Domain) via Pixbay
“570883”  (Public Domain) via Pixbay