Joy: From an Ephemeral Feeling to an Attitude of Life

Joy has temporary reactions and a sense of well-being. It generates endorphins associated with pleasure and physical reactions such as exaltation, laughter, increased heartbeat, and sweating. August 1st is the World Day of Joy.

Joy: From an Ephemeral Feeling to an Attitude of Life
A Psychotherapist's Note on Joy and the World Day of Joy. Photo by Tyler Nix / Unsplash

Related to joy and satisfaction for an achievement, joy is one of the basic emotions of human beings and animal species, which we experience throughout life; although it is an ephemeral feeling, it depends on each person to make it last, says the coordinator of the Institutional Tutoring Program of the Faculty of Psychology (FP) of the UNAM, Patricia Bermudez Lozano.

Joy is a subjective emotion that depends on how each person's life is, but it refers to a general reaction of complacency, which can be constant when we are aware of achievements that give us a feeling of fullness and well-being, in addition to maintaining a positive attitude.

On the occasion of the World Day of Joy, the psychologist emphasizes that being content, happy and enthusiastic are traits of joy, which generates a high level of energy that predisposes us to perform constructive actions for ourselves or others.

"The way we react may be associated with how we deal with some situation, depending on how significant it is and how we approach it. But we all have the possibility of experiencing joy, which depends a lot on the context and the personal situation so that we can feel satisfaction that causes us that joy," she points out.

It is a temporary reaction that ends when the stimulus that provokes it ends. It can be intense at the beginning but diminishes as the situation that produces it recedes in time.

"What remains is that emotional state that generated a feeling of satisfaction, fulfillment, or well-being, which can last for a long time. And if we do it consciously, we more easily maintain a positive state of mind that remains despite any initial situation that has disappeared or new negative situations that we face with good spirits and attitude."

People show a smile, a friendly face, laugh at simple situations, have a positive appearance, and feel like jumping or dancing; they also show a considerable increase in heart rate and blood pressure and even sweating or blushing. "Sometimes there are tears of joy and a higher tone of voice".

When we are happy we generate more endorphins, neurotransmitters associated with pleasure hormones, which provoke a higher level of action and activity. Chocolate with a high cocoa content helps produce them and stimulates brain activity and pleasurable states. It also generates tryptophan, an amino acid that contributes to the creation of serotonin, which regulates mood.

In contrast, drugs and alcohol give a false sense of joy, because they deceive the brain, especially because people feel more active, and stimulated and change the state of their personality. "But this is transient, damages the brain, and causes addiction."

Sharing joy

A happy person is contagious to others and is most attractive, that's why he or she is more sought after than a sad individual, who does not share any satisfaction. "We all have to face difficult situations at some point in life, but it depends a lot on how we face and resolve them. A cheerful being gets a life lesson from difficult situations, and a lot of emotional development depends on that."

If someone remains in a sad emotional state and cannot value those episodes that motivate joy, it is because their primary developmental experiences were not favorable. Some children lack adequate recognition for their successes in learning and behavior, and when they grow up they are frustrated, self-demanding people who experienced their parents' lack of love.

The important thing is to recognize this behavior, to accumulate that sum of ephemeral moments that give us joy and make them frequent to keep a positive attitude towards life, instead of a negative and rigid thought that predisposes us to situations to come.