(from the Book of Human Emotions by Tiffany Watt-Smith).
From the old French joie (a jewel) joy is an emotion that dazzles. It feels, as Katherine Masefield put it in her story “Bliss”, “as though you’d suddenly swallowed a bright piece of the late afternoon sun”.
Philosophers in the 18th century were interested in understanding happiness as something to be self-orchestrated and pursued consciously, rather than giddy, unpredictable joy. We still suffer the effects of this interest in happiness as an achievable goal. By contrast, joy has managed to protect its links with pleasures discovered rather than made.
The flipside of course is how quickly it vanishes…
Extracts from the Book of Human Emotions by Tiffany Watt-Smith appeared in The Guardian Review section 12th September 2015.