In English language there are several words having the same connotation for “happiness”; joy, pleasure, glee, ecstasy, Bliss and so on. If the word Happiness is specific and beyond interpretation, there cannot be many words in the language. Lets us examine in details.
Before that let me deal with the confusion whether “Happiness” is a cause or an effect? This is important because, cause precedes effect. If we say happiness is an effect, we need to figure out what is the cause. There are two schools of thoughts; in material domain we need a cause to be happy – example: food closer to your choice makes you happy. In the spiritual domain “happiness is a state of mind” and hence you don’t need any cause to make it happen! In fact all Vedic literatures say that our real nature is happiness.
Let’s examine the different words and their connotations for better appreciation of our true nature:
Pleasure is the “effect” of physical indulgence; as an example, an ice cream gives you a pleasure. Pleasure is in the lowest rung in the happiness scale. The same ice cream is taken beyond a point at a stretch, it will lead to nausea. It is also a fleeting experience and not lasting.
Joy is at the emotional level and also the effect of a cause; for example when we have become the father of the child first time, we have experienced the joy. Although Joy is in the higher rung than pleasure, but still it depends on an external object to make us happy.
You don’t find the exact meaning for the word Glee from the dictionary. The happiness we get when we see someone in trouble is “Glee”. For example we tend to laugh when someone slipped and fell down; catching ourselves immediately that it is indecent to do that. The cause here is someone else’s problem and it de-generates our being.
Bliss and ecstasy falls in the spiritual domain of happiness which comes from the paradigm that your very nature is “happiness” and you don’t need any external objects to act as a cause. For no reasons you are happy is a state of bliss. It only means all that you have to do is “Choose to be happy”. When the mind is in constant material pursuit, it is perennially looking forward to a physical indulgence or a material object to make you happy.
When one experiences a thoughtless state during the meditation, you experience the Bliss.
Ecstasy in spiritual domain is “Nirvana” the state one attains when he transcends the mind. This is an irreversible state of happiness. Vedic literatures argue this as the very purpose of our life.
What is the earthly use of knowing all this? For a modern man of material madness, these are Greek and Latin. Modern man is swayed like a ship in the rough sea without a compass and a captain. We always chase and amaze wealth hoping that it will give happiness and security. Alas! Only to find that object which gave the happiness on the day of acquiring it, failed to do the same all the time. On the other hand, the desire for a big car, upon acquiring it gave the anxiety of driving without a problem of parking or someone scratching it!
As the famous Zen proverb “You cannot pick the one end of the stick alone”. The happiness through material acquisition has its own share of misery. Beware of their limitations and move upwards in the rung of happiness ladder.