The emotion of joy is often misunderstood and confused with happiness. However, joy is a distinct emotion that has a profound impact on both our mind and body.
Unlike fleeting emotions, joy triggers a range of significant physiological and psychological changes that can enhance our overall well-being. Fortunately, there are many simple actions we can take every day to increase the amount of joy we experience.
Joy is a distinct emotion from happiness, as it encompasses a broader sense of overall life satisfaction
Joy is unique among our emotions, as it is often associated with achieving a long-desired goal that surpasses our expectations.
The experience of joy often encompasses a feeling of contentment with life that arises from a sense of wonder or amazement. It is often associated with a sense of feeling blessed. While joy arises naturally, happiness is frequently pursued.
Additionally, the way in which we express joy is distinct from our other emotions. The smile that accompanies joy is different from the one we might display when happy.
Joy results in what is referred to as a Duchenne smile – a genuine, involuntary smile that reaches our eyes. This type of smile is linked with numerous benefits, including enhancements in physical health, improved recovery following illness, and strengthened connections with others.
Joy has the potential to induce both physiological and neurological changes
The experience of joy also sets off a chain of physiological responses in our body. Our breathing quickens, our heart rate increases, and we feel warmth throughout our chest and body.
When experiencing joy, the release of adrenaline primes our body for action and movement, providing us with a sense of mental preparedness to tackle life’s challenges, as well as contributing to an elevated mood. The brain’s pleasure-related regions are activated by joy, and neurotransmitters – chemical messengers – transmit the sensation of joy to other areas of the central nervous system.
Typically, dopamine – associated with pleasure – as well as serotonin, noradrenaline, and endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers – are among the neurotransmitters released during joy.
Joy is a complex emotion that can be considered both a trait and a state. For some individuals, it is only experienced in response to a joyful situation, while others possess the innate capacity to feel joy irrespective of the external circumstances.
According to research, this innate capacity for joy may have a genetic component, with roughly 30% of people possessing what is referred to as ‘genetic plasticity’. This means that their external environment has a disproportionately significant impact on their emotional state, and they may find it easier to experience joy after learning techniques to cultivate it.
Joy can be cultivated by sharing food, exercising with friends, and writing about positive experiences
Although some individuals may have a natural propensity for joy, it is important to note that everyone can take simple steps to enhance their experience of it.
Not only does being in the company of others increase our experience of joy, but sharing food with others can also trigger this emotion. Eating with others has been shown to improve psychological flourishing, which is the highest level of wellbeing.
In addition, cooking with friends and family can also stimulate joy. If you want to add more joy to your daily life, consider going out for dinner with friends or even hosting a dinner party where everyone participates in preparing the meal together.
The extent to which we experience joy during exercise largely depends on the context of the physical activity, rather than the activity itself. For instance, running with others tends to induce more joy than running alone.
Studies also suggest that attaining a fitness goal we never thought we could accomplish can bring about joy. To incorporate joy into your exercise regimen, consider setting a personal fitness challenge and collaborating with friends to attain it.
Documenting your emotions is an effortless technique that can increase your sense of joy.
In an experiment, individuals who wrote about powerful positive occurrences for 20 minutes each day, like the happiness they felt when seeing a family member returning home or witnessing their child taking their first steps, for three months had a better mood compared to those who wrote about other topics. Furthermore, those who recorded their positive experiences had fewer doctor visits during the three-month period.
Conclusion of joy is good for your body!
While the original study aimed to relive powerful positive emotions like wonder, inspiration, or love, you can opt to concentrate solely on joy. Nonetheless, even though joy is a delightful emotion to encounter, it’s crucial to acknowledge and embrace all the emotions we come across in life, including sadness, anger, happiness, and joy.