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Aspects of joy

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Colourful digital artwork made up of a mottled, paint splattered background containing mauves, greens, pinks, yellow and oranges. On top of the background are 13 black outlined figures of all ages, genders, abilities and ethnicities. Everyone is pictured in the middle of a dance move. They are all dressed in bright coloured clothing.
Dancing for joy. © Jem Clancy for Wellcome Collection.

What do we mean by joy? Is there more to it than fleeting sensations of pleasure or wellbeing? In this series of articles, our four writers and one comic artist examine this elusive emotion by exploring different aspects of joy. Through behavioural studies of animals and humans, scientists are discovering the value and benefits of positive emotions. And it’s not just in our minds that we experience joy. It’s manifest in our facial expressions and in our bodies when we literally dance for joy, helping us to connect and bond with one another. For many religious people, seeking spiritual joy, especially in difficult times, is a way to build resilience. And nature, too, can lift your spirits in unexpected moments of joy.