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Positive Emotion Image MapAccording to George Vaillant, joy tends to be on everyone’s list of positive emotions, and yet is the one least studied (2008, p. 119). Joy is different from happiness and different from pleasure (p. 131). He mentions work by the psychologist, Sylvan Tomkins, who connects joy to suffering removed. There is joy in being freed from captivity, in regaining what was thought lost. There is also joy in observing the small but ordinary miracles of life, such as watching one’s child take a first step.

We haven’t written much about joy in PPND yet, except as a member of the list of positive emotions. Barbara Fredrickson links joy to play. George Vaillant links it to listening to Beethoven’s 9th symphony, written when the composer was stone-deaf.

Sources for Joy
Fredrickson, B. (2005). Positive emotions. In C. Snyder & S. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology, pp. 120-134. Oxford University Press.

Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive. New York: Crown.

Vaillant, G. (2008). Spiritual Evolution: A Scientific Defense of Faith, pp. 119-134. New York: Broadway Books.