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Laughter is a typical expression of joy

The word joy refers to the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune, and is typically associated with feelings of intense, long-lasting happiness.[1]

Dictionary definitions of joy typically include a sensed emotion in reaction to an external happening, such as a physical sensation experienced or receiving good news.[2]

Distinction vs. similar states[edit]

C. S. Lewis saw a clear distinction between joy, pleasure, and happiness: "I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for Joy,"[3]: 169  and "I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again... I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is."[3]: 18 

Michela Summa says that the distinction between joy and happiness is that "Joy accompanies the process through and through, whereas happiness seems to be more strictly tied to the moment of achievement of the process... joy is not only a direct emotional response to an event that is embedded in our life-concerns but is also tightly bound to the present moment, whereas happiness presupposes an evaluative stance concerning one period of one's life or one's own life as a whole."[4]

The causes of joy have been attributed to various sources.

Arianna Huffington, an advocate for the things that instigate joy, studied ways that joy can be triggered. In her research, she determined that joy is produced in response to certain neurochemicals, such as dopamine, that are produced in the brain during stimulating activities.[5] According to Huffington, activities that are able to evoke a positive neurochemical response are producers of joy.

Ingrid Fetell Lee has studied the sources of joy. She wrote the book "Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness",[6] and gave a TED talk on the subject, titled "Where joy hides and how to find it."[7][promotion?]

See also[edit]

  • Happiness – Mental state, noted for pleasant emotions
  • Joie de vivre – Cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit
  • Pleasure – Experience that feels good or is enjoyable
  • Reward system – Group of neural structures responsible for motivation and desire


  1. ^ "joy". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Lewis, C.S. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  4. ^ Summa, Michela (2020). Joy and Happiness. ISBN 9781315180786.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Lee, Ingrid Fetell (2021). Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. ISBN 978-0316399272.
  7. ^ Lee, Ingrid Fetell (21 May 2018), Where joy hides and how to find it, retrieved 2 October 2020