What is "joy"?

I searched to see if this has been covered here, and I didn’t see anything similar.

I have done some medical surveys at my gp’s office and some just what the heck surveys on line that ask: have you felt joy? I honestly don’t think I have since the briths of my kids. When they put that new baby on your chest, after 9 months slogging, and the work of getting their little butts born, yeah that’s joy. I mean that little skinny, squalling, baby, is a little human who was riding around inside. Other than that though? Nope I don’t think I’ve experienced “joy”?

I wonder is it the normal human condition to experience joy? Am I over thinking it? Is joy not as incandescent as I think it is? I mean I’ve experienced a sort of mild happiness, and contentment. My life doesn’t lend itself to a lot of happiness, but I get some happy jolts from time to time. However, I don’t think I ever experience joy since the above mentioned child birth.

So I’m asking for other opinions here: What is joy? Do you experience joy? Do you think that joy is/should be the default for humans? If you’ve had joy would you share if you comfortable sharing?

I seriously don’t know what constitutes joy for me or other people, so I hope to see if my experience is in the normal range. Well, I guess I mean the normal range within this small self selected subset of people.

My cat was feeling mushy a short time ago and let me pick him up and hug and cuddle him. Joy!

The Yankees win in a Walk-Off. Joy!

On a DIY job, have things come out better than hoped, Joy!

Back when I was working, coming up with a clever solution for a tough problem that had evading an answer for years. Joy!


I have to wash a sink full of dishes by hand, I reach for? Joy.

I’ll let myself out.

Joy is what you can wish, hope or give to someone. Then it comes back to you.

Don’t go looking for it. Try to provide it.

@burpo_the_wonder_mutt , you’re a joy!!

I know that Granny Clampett had it down in ber heart.

While big joys in life are rare, minor joys can be found in triumphs over mundane hassles. Where the triumph affects others - most especially loved ones - in a positive way, the joy is enhanced, to be reveled in and savored.

Special personal joy: kissing someone I love after consumption of chocolate mousse.

Well said, Beck.

I’m guessing that the context there is that they’re screening for depression, and that they’re taking “seldom or never feeling joy” as a possible sign or symptom of being depressed.

Of course, that doesn’t answer your question (“What is joy?”), which is a good one.

Wikipedia has a short article that I found unsatisfying, but it does have a few quotes and references that provide food for thought.

It does look like the word has a whole bunch of different shades of meaning, and different people have different things in mind when they use it.

Ingesting MDMA can lead to feelings of pure joy. Unselfish, loving, happiness. And it does that by soaking the brain in serotonin, although the exact pathways are not fully understood.

That does show that our brains are capable of joy, even if artificially stimulated

I suffer from depression, and for many years had not felt joy. Recently my medication changed (or, was supplented) so I take a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)* and a dopamine agonist.**

I now feel joy. I can marvel at the beauty of the random rocks my 6 year old son collects, just because I can relate to his own joy. (Spoiler - they are just rocks).

Joy should not be the default. We need both joy and sadness to be human. A previous SSRI*** I took put me in the middle, neither happy nor sad. It was awful, life without emotion is not real. I chose to stop taking it because I craved real emotion, even if it was sad.

Joy is also fleeting, and that is good. It is a “treat” that your brain gives you every so often. I think I would not enjoy full-time joy, I prefer to have the mood swings that contrast the joy with the sadness.

Joy is hard to define. The example in the OP of holding their child for the first time is one I can relate to (though I am male). But I also get joy from hiking in nature, solving problems at work, cuddling my children… baking a (semi) perfect loaf of bread, even.

When I was at my darkest depression, I could not conceive what joy was, even though I had experienced it before, and I think that that is how the OP feels. Now I am not as depressed I have a better view of joy - that it is possible and attainable.

* Lexamil
** Welbuterin
*** Prozac

A certain amount should be allocated to the entire globe itself, indeed even including perhaps easily overlooked aquatic craniate gill-bearing animals at great depths in the ocean.

I take lexapro. I often wonder if I’m depressed, or I hear about depression all the time, life is not particularly uplifting, so I just think I"m depressed/anxious. I don’t know. Joy seems like a thing I’ve felt in the past, but something I can’t really define. Some here think that what I would call happy or celebratory is “joy”. I’m really interested in the comments and appreciate the different perspectives. Thank you all.

ISWYDT! Far out!


And if the Devil don’t like it, he can sit on a tack!

Joy is a pretty extreme emotional state. I’m of the opinion one would be far better off pursuing contentment. It’s more sustainable at any rate.

The first time is when I walked out onto the tarmac at Da Nang Airbase and saw that beautiful, blue and white PanAm charter jet waiting to take me home from hell on earth. I was actually sad when the company went belly up.

There’s a scene in the movie Platoon where the character King finds out he’s getting orders back to the States hours before an expected offensive where he says to the protagonist being left behind “All you got to do is make it out of here. Then it’s all gravy, everyday the rest of your life, gravy.”

That line resonated with me. Once you’ve experienced hell, every day that follows will be joyful by comparison. Thing is, that doesn’t really reflect the human condition or how we experience things internally. Our emotional states are fleeting, and while it’s possible on an intellectual level to appreciate relief afterwards, the initial elation one experienced is no longer there. I imagine the same would be true of winning the lottery.

I assumed it had something to do with whales. But, I don’t get it. I’m sorta slow sometimes.:blush:

But whales don’t have gills. Hmmm?

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me


That’ll teach me to take another bathroom break, ever!

This does NOT give me (or Bart) joy.

Ahh! Three Dog Night.

Thank you.
Very cute😊

That gave me some joy, right there!