Where is our joy located? It’s an odd question. Perhaps you think joy is in your heart, or maybe you experience joy as a state of mind.
It turns out, according to scientists, joy originates in the limbic system of the brain—the part of the brain that controls emotion, behavior, and long-term memory. Unlike happiness, which is a cognitive experience based in the brain’s neocortex, joy is an emotion we feel without conscious thought. We feel joy without thinking about it, and we can train our brains to feel it often.
EMOTIONS ARE HABITUAL
Just like any repetitive action, our emotional state becomes a habit. For most of my life, my emotional habit was some version of fear. From the time I was a small child, I was a perpetual worrier. I have a vivid memory of being 4 years old in a restaurant with my mom and her then-boyfriend, who happened to be a professional clown. The clown was entertain-ing, the meal was my favorite, but I couldn’t stop worrying about everything.