How do we find joy? Students weigh in

How do we define, capture and sustain joy?

What is joy? How do we find it? Joy is a mysterious concept, absent in some yet plentiful in others. But is that the end? If people aren’t joyful now, can they ever be? 

I asked a collection of high schoolers some questions about how they define and seek out joy. These are those questions.

First, how do other people define joy?

The responses for this were somewhat varied but tended to lead back to the same thing: joy is being grateful, being grateful for what you did that day or for who you surround yourself with. 

The overall responses were best exemplified by senior Juliana Shepard. “[Joy is about] satisfaction in the day, satisfaction in life, laughing, excitement, being with loved ones, and the feeling of lightness and happiness,” she said.

When I asked people if they consider themselves joyous or joyful people, some said they can see themselves as joyous people even if they have had times where they weren’t joyful. 

Others find themselves not as joyful, often to no fault of their own. “It’s so-so, because I might spend time with the wrong person,” senior Nguyen Pham said [leading to a loss of joy].

Respondents talked in varied ways about the things they do that bring them joy, including small and large actions or activities. 

People mentioned unique hobbies from sports all the way to forms of art. All but two respondents mentioned spending time with loved ones, which came as no surprise.

Respondents were asked what they do in day to day life to seek out and find joy. While a handful of respondents were not sure if they pursue joy, most respondents said they found joy among the people they most enjoy spending time with.

While joy is inconsistent and unpredictable, there was one consistent way people find it: though others, especially loved ones. Friends and loving family were the biggest sources of joy noted, so be a friend to others; it turns out it can have a massive effect on the people around you.