It is that time of the year – the festival season has begun in most parts of the world. Just the thought of it creates positive emotions in us. We anticipate the joy of spending time with family and friends, sharing sumptuous food, gifts, love, and laughter. Just the thought brings a smile to our faces.  

Have you noticed how seemingly small things give us joy, regardless of our nationality, region, ethnicity, or any other identity, that we associate ourselves with? All over the world, we find joy in the same things – childbirth, graduation, weddings, etc. The sight of a cake, balloons, confetti, fireworks, and a wedding party brings a smile to our faces, no matter who is celebrating and whether we know them or not. We are happy to share others’ celebrations and participate in their joy.  

Often happiness and joy are spoken together, but there is a fundamental difference between the two. Happiness is a function of how we feel about our life over time and across various dimensions, e.g., work, family, health, friendships, etc. It is associated with a life well lived. Joy, on the other hand, appears in the moment. It comes in short bursts and is transient. One joyful moment may not create long-lasting happiness, but a string of everyday joyful moments contributes to the kitty that makes life happy.  

Here are more ways in which joy is important – 

Joy keeps us healthy – 

Research shows that joyful people are less likely to have a heart attack. Joy boosts our immune system, fights stress and pain, and improves our chances of living longer in life.

Joy helps us connect with others –  

When we are joyous, we are also more open and creative. We connect easily with fellow human beings. 

Joy makes us successful – 

Research shows that our brains work better in a positive state, rather than a negative or stressed state. Joy gives us the strength and energy to do our work.

Joy makes us resilient – 

Joy helps us deal with everyday pressures, enhances our well-being, and makes us resilient. It is possible to feel joy during difficult times. When we are feeling joy, we are in the moment. It helps us bounce back from adversity. 

Given the benefits, the intentional pursuit of joy makes absolute sense. Joy is an easy emotion to create. You can set an intention to include joy in your everyday life. Here are a few things you could do to be more joyful – 

  • Slow down to note things around you that give you joy, e.g., the rising sun, the beautiful lawn on your way to work
  • Share a smile
  • Pay compliments
  • Be kind 
  • Savor what gives you joy a little longer
  • Surprise your family and friends
  • Do not take yourself seriously
  • Do not analyze your joyous moments

Finally, as Robert Brault said – Enjoy the little things, for one day, you may look back and realize they were the big things.

PS – This write up is inspired by the work of Dr. Barbara Fredrickson.