When looking to understand our emotions it can really be helpful to learn what renowned researcher Dr. Brené Brown has found. For one, she defines joy as "an intense feeling of deep spiritual connection, pleasure, and appreciation." She reports that people sometimes find themselves at a loss for words to adequately describe the experience.
In her book "Atlas of the Heart," she makes a strong correlation between joy and gratitude - referring to research that calls the relationship an "intriguing upward spiral." Specifically, gratitude predicts greater future experiences of in-the-moment joy. Then the trait joy predicts greater future experiences of in-the-moment gratitude. This all predicts a greater sense of well-being and continues to spiral up! Amazing! (and it makes sense!)
But there's also a "dark side" of joy, which is that sometimes when we experience it, we experience fear. The fear of potential loss of that which causes us joy.
"When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability,
joy becomes foreboding."
Check out this conversation with Dr. Brown and Oprah Winfrey filmed nine years ago on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday.
So, we leave you with an invitation to consider, "what brings you joy?" And can we be courageous enough to lean into these moments? Can we practice gratitude, and know that by leaning in, we will have more access to both? More gratitude and more joy.