If The Bergens Can Find Joy, You Can To
During a global pandemic filled with uncertainty and the rise of a social movement, everyone is searching for Joy. While many will say it is synonymous with happiness, some psychologists believe there is a difference. In an interview with Dr. Kortni Alston, Happiness Scholar and Positive Psychology expert she said, “happiness is the frequency of positive emotions that we have and those positive emotions can be life satisfaction, appreciation of life and moments of pleasure and so forth,“ and joy is, “ a response to a good object or circumstance.”
Dr. Alston agrees there can be a difference between the two, but said, “the value is the fact that in both we’re dealing with levels of positive emotion which are things you really want to look at when you’re thinking about increasing your well-being.”
To find joy and increase positive emotions Dr. Alston stresses the importance of an intentional strategy through planning. A perfect example of finding joy and making it an intentional decision is one of my favorite movies, the DreamWorks film Trolls.
In the movie, Princess Poppy and the rest of the trolls in the colorful Troll Village spend their days being happy, singing, dancing, and hugging on the dot at every hour. Far from their village is Bergen Town, a drab place filled with creatures called Bergens that are always miserable and believe the only cure is to eat a troll.
The Bergens craved their annual troll eating tradition until the trolls outsmarted them and moved their town. Unfortunately, a Bergen finds their new location and captures Princess Poppy’s friends. She embarks on an adventure to save her friends that leads to her showing the Prince of Bergen town and his subjects that eating a troll only makes you happy temporarily but real joy is a feeling that comes from within.
Princess Poppy taught the Bergens that externally things might satisfy your desire for happiness in the moment, but you will be on an endless cycle of misery and never be truly happy if you don’t make the intentional decision on your own by looking within yourself.
Being intentional about finding joy can look like scheduling time for increasing positive emotions like going to the spa, gym, mindful activities, focusing on relationships, doing something you always dreamed of and the list goes on. For the Trolls, choosing to hug every hour and singing and dancing to classic pop music was their conscious decision.
Dr. Alston also expresses that while there are many elements to increase emotions, gratitude is the main one. “Gratitude can allow you to be reflective and really see the good that’s happening in the world or the good that happens to you. It also allows you in terms of being that recipient of the good as well,” Dr. Alston said.
We should all strive to increase positive emotions and gratitude in our life. If the Bergens were able to bring color to their town and find that the joy they were seeking was always inside of them, then we can too.
Zshekinah Collier is a New Haven, CT native, and a 2020 graduate from American University where she received a B.A in Justice and Law with a Criminology concentration and a Communication minor. She was also a Community-Based Research Scholar and Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Blackprint Magazine.
In middle school, she fell in love with writing about injustices and aspires to be an investigative journalist. She is passionate about diversifying the media, making information accessible, and using journalism as a tool for social justice, advocacy, and fostering dialogue.
Entertainment and the arts have played a significant role in Zshekinah’s life. In her free time, she enjoys singing, watching TV, and learning to cook plant-based meals.