How would you define joy? Is it the mirth you feel following a major event like the birth of a child or grandchild? Is it the high of a wedding day? Or is it simpler than that for you, such as finding your favorite obscure vegetable at your local supermarket?
We experience joy in a multitude of ways. It can induce us to tears, bring about a sense of contentment, or make us feel euphoric. If you want to get scientific about it, we feel our joy in the brain’s neurotransmitters.
Those chemical messengers send signals all over the body so we quite literally feel joy all over. It’s profound. Let’s look at all of the ways joy impacts your body and how that contributes to healing.
- In the Brain
Your brain is influenced by your feelings and vice versa. There isn’t a single emotional center within your brain, different parts of the brain involve different functions. The frontal lobe effectively serves as the control panel and serves as the emotional state’s monitor. Whereas the thalamus is the information center where it helps determine how to execute emotional responses.
You feel joy because that happiness releases serotonin and dopamine into the system and those are feel-good chemicals! When you feel down, doing simple activities you love fills you with joy and has a healing effect on your brain and body.
- The Circulatory System
You may have noticed that your face flushes when you feel particularly joyful. Or, that your heart starts to race. Perhaps your hands grow clammy. That is down to the circulatory system. Your emotions trigger a physical response. It isn’t just joy that triggers these responses, but joy is a positive trigger.
- The Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system does without you putting any conscious effort into making it do. That includes breathing and digestion. This system of your body is also influenced by feelings such as joy. A good example would be when your breath quickens when you are doing something fun or when it slows as you do something relaxing. Simply smiling can be enough to trick your brain into giving you a mood boost.
According to The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, happiness protects your heart, boosts your immune system, combats stress, reduces aches and pains, combats disease, combats disability, and can even extend your lifespan. Of course, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that happiness extends your lifespan when you see the many health benefits of happiness. Those health benefits are what contribute to a longer lifespan!
Life is meant for moments of joy. Life was designed to experience love and happiness. Can you imagine a life where it’s all about struggle and there are no moments of joy? What if you set out to create joy in your daily life rather than focusing on acquiring new stuff? If your daily goal were to create happiness and experience joy, how different would your life unfold?
It’s easy to get caught up in the struggle and lose sight of what we value. But, at the end of the day, all anyone truly wants is to find happiness and joy. Joy will serve as the foundation for contentment, love, gratitude, and peace. By living in joy, you will reduce the stressors and struggles you might face.
That’s your challenge to take away. To set out tomorrow with the express intention of finding joy and being joyful. Spread that feeling to everyone you encounter and when you get home make sure you take a moment to reflect on your day or even journal about your experience.