The Ultimate 8,000-Word Guide to Creating Joy on Demand

Part 3 of 9

The Four Types of People

Before I show you how to build a joy habit, it’s important for you to know where you are with joy.

First, measure your joy by taking the free assessment below. Once you have your score, you can view the breakdown below.

When it comes to joy, there are four types of people: Disappointed, Cynical, Content, and Joyful. Let’s explore each of these categories so you fully understand where you land on this spectrum.


Joy Score: 26 or below

This is the lowest end of the spectrum. When a person is in the Disappointed category, they don’t show up for their life. Instead, they spend a majority of their time trying to escape life through numbing and destructive behaviors. People here are drenched in negativity as they typically ruminate on the past. Their presence is toxic in relationships as their low self-image and victim mentality often seeks to take advantage of others. In this category, people believe there’s nothing valuable left in their life, and so, they disengage from it. This is the worst spot for a person to be in because their life is wasted in negative, self-pity, and damaging behaviors. It is almost impossible for a person to reach their highest potential in this spot.


Joy Score: 27–53

Much of our current day society lives in this category. People in this category are higher-functioning than those in the Disappointed category, but they still struggle with a negative perspective that oftentimes pushes them to disengage from life. Because these people don’t have much emotional awareness, hard things cause them to numb out and distract themselves. These behaviors aren’t as destructive as the Disappointed though. It could be as simple as binge-watching Netflix or binge-eating. But all of this stems from a lack of emotional awareness. Their default mindset is one that adopts negativity. Their anxiety and stress is easy to trigger, and their cynical, frustrated attitude denies them happiness in the present moment. They function well in society because their negativity is normalized by society as a whole. Here, people are apathetic to their potential.


Joy Score: 54–80

Another large group of people are a step above Cynical. People in the Content category are more satisfied with their lives. They might have a few domains of life that are working in their favor, like their health, their family, or their job. But still, there are other domains of life that leave them unsatisfied and restless. They are fine with where they are, but they feel like there’s a small barrier between where they are now and their ideal life. That small barrier denies them of the full joy they could have now. Anxiety and stress are still big players for these people, but people in this category can oftentimes come back faster because they have more positive emotions in their reserve. Here, people are aware of their potential, but often stagnate because they have a “good enough” outlook on life.


Joy Score: 81 and above

Finally, the Joyful is a small percentage of people in our society. People in the Joyful category show up for their lives. They have an in-depth awareness of their emotions so they are able to regulate emotions in real-time. Even if all of the domains of their life are not where they want them to be, they have joy for where they are now, which causes them to fully embrace life. They are not always brimming with positivity, but they accept all of their emotions, and don’t try to escape any with numbing behaviors. They know how to sit with their emotions and feel them so they don’t turn into anything ugly. These people also have an unbridled enthusiasm for life. They are not stuck in the past, but are more future-focused. This focus on the future gives their mind the mental toolset to build their ideal life. People in the Joyful category are living out their potential.

People in the Dissapointed category make a habit of escaping the negative 50 percent. But people in the Joyful category know how to embrace this 50 percent and grow through it.

Once you understand this, you’ll see a big difference between joy and happiness.

The Difference Between Joy and Happiness

Joy is different from happiness because happiness is dependent on external circumstances. If you are on a rollercoaster, you probably feel happy. But joy is more of an internal state of being, and unlike happiness, it can coexist with negative external circumstances.

I recently went to a friends’ house who had just lost their child. You could tell their spirits were grieved, but you could also feel something else in the room. It was odd, but in that time we had moments of laughter, tears, silence, and smiles. I left their house feeling as though it was the most tangible experience of joy I had ever witnessed.

Those parents had joy because they engaged their emotions, and in doing so, found strength, hope, acceptance, grief, and more. If a person went through this tragedy without joy, it would shatter them as they sought to escape life.

Joy can coexist with sadness. Happiness cannot.

But here’s the thing… joy can operate independently of happiness, but happiness cannot operate independently of joy. This is a big distinction to make.

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, defines happiness as the joy you feel when striving after your potential. His definition ties happiness and joy together. This is how most people view joy.

But in his definition, he describes joy as present in not-so-pleasurable moments, like when you’re running a tiring marathon or waking up in middle of the night.

Here’s the difference then: happiness is the emotion you feel when your joy is positive. Joy, rather, is a mixture of emotions, and doesn’t depend on being solely happy. You can have joy in sadness. But at that moment, you’re not happy. At your kid’s birthday party, you can be happy and have joy.

Our society is all striving after happiness and ignoring the foundation on which happiness is built on: joy.

With joy, we don’t only focus on the positive. Engaging our lives means we embrace all of our emotions and circumstances. And this is what will give us lasting success in life.

But lets fully break this down. What does a life of joy actually look like?
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