Like all six emotions in the Balance Wheel, Joy exists to make humans more successful as individuals and as a species. Joy is a positive experience that a human evaluates for its benefit. For example, eating is a positive experience, but over-eating leads to discomfort. Same thing with consumption of drink. Younger humans tend to over-indulge in eating and drinking more than older people. It is no mere coincidence that older people tend to be generally happier than young people. Joy seems to be the acquired skill of experiencing positive stimuli.

Was that Too Quick?

There really isn’t much more to it than that. I don’t apologize for being brief, either. There is more expenditure of paper and ink on the subject of happiness or Joy than anyone can read in a hundred years. Most of the paper and ink printed for the purpose of Joy takes the form of money.

Yet Joy is as simple as my first paragraph above. In fact it’s a simple as the central sentences of that paragraph.

“Joy is a positive experience that a human evaluates for its benefit.”

“Joy seems to be the acquired skill of experiencing positive stimuli.”

Take Me for Example

I have never smoked marijuana in my life. It’s true. Never have. If I decided tonight, right here, to smoke some marijuana, . . . I’d be shit outa luck because I don’t know anybody who sells it. Anyway, let’s say I had some marijuana here and decided to smoke it. I understand that it is a rewarding experience. But, how do you smoke it? How much should I smoke? How am I supposed to know how fast to smoke it? My only experience with smoking is with Marlboro Reds. I would probably over-indulge on the marijuana my first time and end up becoming sick. Probably even piss myself.

On the other hand, a person my age who is a regular pot smoker would know exactly how much he should smoke in order to have a pleasant experience. He would know the best product to use, the most effective appliances to use and the pace at which he should consume. This is the function of Joy working effectively. Joy is the proper evaluation of a positive experience.

What about Intellectual Enjoyment?

“Learning is the Purest Pleasure,” one of my college professors said to me one afternoon sitting in an armchair at the end of a quiet hallway. She was eighty-one years old, and her hair was the purest white I’ve ever seen. I know she won’t mind my appending her sentence to say that pure pleasure is, in fact, Joy.

I insist that Joy is a skill that takes many years to appreciate. I remember thinking in seventh grade that the Pythagorean Theorem was a bunch of damned bullshit and I couldn’t even understand what the teacher was trying to say when she pronounced it. A few years later, I got to the point that I could bear it and even use it. Ten years later it became a beautiful mathematical formula. The same is true of Michelangelo’s David or Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. There is a beauty that cannot be experienced without the ability to feel Joy.

One of the reasons that older people tend to be happier than young people is that young people wish for this ability but have not yet acquired enough of it. Being young is frustrating and irksome. But the only way to become happy is to submit to the lengthy process of learning to experience Joy.

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