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Laughter is a typical expression of joy

Joy is the state of being that allows one to experience feelings of intense, long-lasting happiness and satisfaction of life. It is closely related to, and often evoked by, well-being, success, or good fortune.[1] Happiness, pleasure, and gratitude are closely related to joy but are not identical to it.[2]

Distinction vs similar emotions[edit]

Some psychologists and scholars draw a distinction between happiness and joy. The precise distinction varies, but happiness is often described as the product of external sources, while joy is considered to be internal.[3]

C. S. Lewis saw a clear distinction between joy, pleasure, and happiness: "I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for Joy",[4] 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."[5]

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."[6]


Sources and types[edit]

The causes of joy have been ascribed to various sources.

Ingrid Fetell Lee has studied the sources of joy. She wrote the book Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness,[7] and gave a TED talk on the subject, titled "Where joy hides and how to find it."[8]

Joy is most commonly found through engagement, self-connection, and living in the moment.[9][2][10]

Health effects[edit]

Joy improves health and well-being and brings psychological changes that improve a person's mood and well-being.[2][10] Some people have a natural capacity for joy, meaning they experience joy more easily compared to others. While there is no conclusive evidence for the genetics of happiness, joy is known to be hereditary.[11] Experience of joy is increased through healthy habits such as sharing food, physical activity, writing, and self-connection.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Joy". The Emotion Compass. Retrieved 27 January 2024.
  2. ^ a b c Sima, Richard (17 November 2022). "Want to feel happier? Try snacking on joy". The Washington Post.
  3. ^ Brown, Sandra (18 December 2012). "Joy vs. Happiness".
  4. ^ Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. (p. 169) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  5. ^ Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. (p. 18) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  6. ^ Summa, Michela (2020). Joy and Happiness. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781315180786.
  7. ^ Lee, Ingrid Fetell. Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness.
  8. ^ Lee, Ingrid Fetell (21 May 2018), Where joy hides and how to find it, retrieved 2 October 2020
  9. ^ Bruce Wilson (23 October 2023). "Experiencing Your Multiple Domains of Joy". Psychology Today.
  10. ^ a b Lowry, Ca; Lightman, Sl; Nutt, Dj (June 2009). "That warm fuzzy feeling: brain serotonergic neurons and the regulation of emotion". Journal of Psychopharmacology. 23 (4): 392–400. doi:10.1177/0269881108099956. PMID 19074539. S2CID 1128746.
  11. ^ "Biological Connection to the Feeling of Happiness". Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. 1 October 2020.
  12. ^ Jolanta Burk, Padraic Dunne (1 March 2023). "Joy is good for your body and your mind – three ways to feel it more often". Psychology Today.