Joy – Concept, function, effects, origin and manifestation

We explain what joy is, its social function and what is the origin of the term. Also, in what ways can it manifest itself.

Joy allows us to transmit our enthusiasm to others.

What is joy?

Joy is one of the primary emotions of the human being (and of certain higher animals), described as a fleeting and pleasant sensation, often equated with happiness, well-being or pleasure. “Being happy” or “being happy” are understood as synonyms, and in general they are interpreted as a positive and desirable emotion, represented through dancing figures, icons of abundance and, above all, the smile.

In the same way as other basic emotions, such as fear or anger, joy constitutes an adaptive response of the human being to its environment. When we are happy, not only does our body react to this well-being by triggering biochemical and hormonal reactions, but it also serves as a reinforcement for beneficial behaviors, or to transmit our enthusiasm to others, thus reinforcing the social and emotional bond.

The word joy comes from Latin alacer, alacris, which can be translated as “fast”, “lively” or “lively”, and where the Italian word comes from allegro, used in music for melodies that exhibit these characteristics. In part, this is due to the fact that joy is traditionally associated with certain energetic physical behaviors, such as running, dancing, jumping, laughing, and so on.

In general, joy is manifested in the body and facial features by:

  • Laughter, smiles or inclination to celebrate and festive. Elevated tone of voice.
  • Elevation of the eyelids and narrowing of its opening (the “smile” of the eyes).
  • Presence of energy in the body, which prevents us from being still, and therefore expresses itself in dances, jumps, applause, and so on.

However, joy can take many forms, from a noisy outburst of glee, to calm, quiet happiness.

Thus, depending on the stimulus to which it responds, we can experience more intense or more controllable joys that, depending on it (and also our personality), we can manifest in a socially conventional way, or not. That is why states of uncontrollable and persistent euphoria are not considered joyful, but rather a symptom of a mania or hypermania.

At the same time, joy should not be confused with happiness, which supposes a more lasting state of satisfaction and more linked to the rational evaluation of one’s life and one’s own performance; nor with pleasure, which is usually described as a temporary physical sensation of well-being, such as sexual pleasure.