Author Topic: The Nature of Joy  (Read 826 times)

Hadriel

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The Nature of Joy
« on: November 20, 2006, 06:59:21 pm »
One topic here that seems to come up occasionally, but isn't ever really resolved, is the question of what precisely constitutes joy.  A great many of us here have our own, fairly well-developed idea of the answer.  I'd like to open the floor for a dedicated discussion of this topic.

I'll start with my own personal slant.  Joy, to me, is an emotional state defined somewhat redundantly as pure bliss; a happiness so overpowering that literally nothing else enters the mind.  It appears to be triggered solely by circumstance and stimuli.  As an emotional state, experiencing joy is something of a subjective value judgment.  The magnitude of joy felt is variable depending on the circumstance.  This is a concise definition; its only x-factor lies in the individual stimuli that cause joy, and why this happens.  The stimuli that give me joy are almost entirely of a sensory rather than mental nature, or, more often, combine both.  Sex with a lover (as opposed to a one-night stand), for example, gives me an extraordinary feeling of completeness and meaning, in addition to the already incredible sensory overload inherent in the physical act.  Compare that to masturbation; the same result occurs, but the added mental and emotional stimuli is not present.  Pleasure is not joy in and of itself, though it often has the most potential to be.  Drug use is another possible candidate; depending on the drug you're using, and how fucked up you intend to get, getting high can bequeath some magnitude of joy.  Of course, it can also play havoc with your health if you do it too much, which renders the value of the act questionable even if it does engender pure happiness.

Others can have a different definition of joy.  Mental exercise is sometimes called joy by many of the posters here.  While mental exercises do bring me measures of happiness, I define happiness and joy to be two different things.  Not once has a mental exercise ever brought me true joy, even though they are capable of doing so according to this definition.

Radical_Dreamer

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Re: The Nature of Joy
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2006, 08:00:43 pm »
To me, joy is a blissfull state in which my happiness, while possibly having a cause, is in the sense of my conciousness, without cause. I'll attempt to illustrate. I meet up with a group of friends to play Guilty Gear on saturdays. Earlier this month, it was decided, mostly on whim, to get dinner at fairly nice steak restaurant. So a bunch of us went down to a steak place and had dinner. The steak was good. Really good. After I was a few bites in, I was in a state of joy. I was happy, and while I was academically aware that the steak and company were largely responsible, I felt as though my happiness had no cause. Joy to me is a simple, but powerful, sort of happiness. Bliss was a deliberate choice of wording. Joy is happiness stripped of context, stripped of externalities.

So I suppose I agree with a good deal of what Hadriel has said. And no, I don't enjoy steak more than sex.

Lord J Esq

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Re: The Nature of Joy
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2006, 06:40:30 am »
Of the many words I have undertaken to flesh out into full-fledged concepts, "joy" is not one of them. So I approach this with some arbitrariness. Most importantly, I recognize a whole category of related emotions, any of which could be identified by a different person as "joy." One person's joy might be "delight"; another's might be "frisson"; still another's might be "rapture." These are just words, though, and without the weight of a treatise behind them--or at least a good definition--people will have a hard time getting onto the same page with each other. I see two different emotions, for instance, between the "joy" of which one is aware while experiencing it, and another kind of "joy" that is impossible to simultaneously experience and be aware of experiencing. And definitely there is a difference between the sort of high-tension "joy" that excites us so much that sitting still is next to impossible, versus the low-tension joy that is so overwhelming we haven't even got any excitement to vent. These are all different emotions. So whatever emotion I pick to take on the mantle of "joy" is going to be, as I said, somewhat arbitrary.

That said, I think Hadriel offers an excellent starting point. Joy is usually an overriding emotion, one that occurs natively in the center of one's emotional color rather than on the periphery of a mood. Joy is powerful, consuming, and very pleasant--either during the episode, thereafter, or both. Joy is a hard emotion to catch; in the popular sense of the word, joy is too passionate for us to continue to experience for a long period of time. It is a bright, thrilling, flamboyant emotion that allows us to dispense with some deep inhibitions. Joy is more expressive than contemplative. Joy is hard to identify with in other people, unless we are able to experience some bit of it ourselves. It is especially hard to depict in literature and film--although good writers and actors have often made it look a cinch.

In my mind, as I sift through a number of emotions, I think it best for me to leave it at that rather than define joy explicitly. Since I don't have a philosophical concept of joy yet, I don't want to play that card as though there were any weight behind it. Both Hadriel and Radical Dreamer have given good representations of two different emotions that I think would qualify for "joy,' depending on how you look at it. As for me, I find this a useful thread because I never before consciously realized just how large the "happy" branch of the emotional family tree is. There is a lot of exploring to be done here.

Corey Taylor

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Re: The Nature of Joy
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2006, 09:40:16 am »
 To me, joy is just an emotion caused by doing something pleasant. Say for instant, I am not the most loveable person on this site, but when someone agrees with me on a subject it gives me a sense of joy. Those who feel that joy is just another stupid state of mind have not experienced true happiness.
 
Joy is a simple three lettered word used to describe a sense of happiness.

Romana

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Re: The Nature of Joy
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2006, 12:16:11 pm »
To me, joy is just an emotion caused by doing something pleasant. Say for instant, I am not the most loveable person on this site, but when someone agrees with me on a subject it gives me a sense of joy. Those who feel that joy is just another stupid state of mind have not experienced true happiness.
 
Joy is a simple three lettered word used to describe a sense of happiness.

Thank you Dictionary.com

Fixed. :)

Meh... I can't think of any way to describe joy that hasn't already been said in this topic.

CyberSarkany

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Re: The Nature of Joy
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2006, 01:47:19 pm »
Well, for me it is hard to talk about how I see these two words, because we use a lot of different words for happiness and joy, yet I think I can agree that joy=happiness + x, meaning that joy is something even more powerful than happiness.
Happiness for me is like, well, when I got a good mark at school(doesn't happen to often heh), like a B(I think it was that in the USA). I makes me feel good, yet I know it is nothing great, nothing changing my attitude, nothing being very important to me. Or if people say like "You did a great job there" it makes me happy(well, considering the person who said it), but not more.
Joy would be more like, being with people I like, talking about stuff, not caring about all the shit going on in everyone's live, ignoring all the bad things which we very well know about, all the problems, at least for a moment. Just living in the moment and even though people might say it is not hard to do so, for me it is. For me x would be like not thinking too much, so the happiness can actually flow through me.

Or whatever. Maybe I should make myself a new definition so I am a more happy person...haha

cupn00dles

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Re: The Nature of Joy
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2006, 02:00:14 pm »
Joy is seeing the invisible, hearing the mute, touching the non-substantial. Joy is being overwhelmed by the smallest, most insignificant of things.

Joy is being able to recognize that beauty is a fleeting illusion, and yet still be able to see beauty in everything, and rejoice.

ZeaLitY

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Re: The Nature of Joy
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2006, 02:18:00 pm »
Two kinds. Latent joy is almost subconscious and comes from loving your situation, friends, etc. but usually things that you've had all your life or extended periods. Manifest joy comes from miraculous achievements and acquisitions, and I look forward to being awash in it when I realize my dreams. In the case of latent joy, the adage that you don't know what you have until you lose it is more likely to be true.