(?) How do you describe joy differently from happiness or satisfaction, and how can people increase the joy in their lives?
Ossorio: I might even try answering this. [laughter] In the survey of emotions, there is a generalized formula and it's essentially a formula for symbolic behavior where you do A by doing B. Emotional behavior has this structure. In all cases of emotional behavior, you are doing A by doing B. Now the differences among the emotions are in the K value. It's what you discriminate that sets off a behavior that distinguishes fear behavior from anger behavior, from guilt behavior, from joy, and from other different emotional behaviors.
In that sense joy is simply one on the list of emotional behaviors. And remember by virtue of the whole arrangement for generating person characteristics, for every emotional behavior there is a variety of emotional PC's. For every emotional behavior, for example, there are two emotional traits. There are two emotional attitudes, at least two. There are a variety of emotional skills. There are some number of emotional styles. So emotional behavior is the lynch pin upon which all of the other emotional concepts hinge.
As I say, in this sense, joy is simply one on the list of primary emotions. Now the reality condition for joy is simply good fortune. When good things happen, you react with joy.
Now one of the interesting things about that list, I used to ask people in class to give me a list of emotions. Just that. Give me a list of everything you think of as an emotion. And then I would tally them on the blackboard. The big three were anger, fear and guilt. Everybody thought anger, fear and guilt were emotions. Just about everybody had one positive emotion and it was joy or ecstasy or something, but usually it was just one. Then there were things like envy, jealousy and shame and things like that where you had something like 70 to 90 percent agreement, that these are emotions. And as you look at the list, if you cut it off at 70 percent, all you'd have is familiar items on that list.
And one thing stood out like a sore thumb, namely there were about maybe a dozen, maybe ten, items on the list and if you divide emotions into negative emotions and positive emotions, essentially there was only one positive emotion and all the rest were negative emotions. The question is, "How come?" Certainly that's not something you've ever encountered in the literature on emotion I would bet, even though I'm not one hundred percent sure, but I would bet you haven't. And yet once you mention it, itís obvious. Just run down your own list.
Well the answer is neat and simple. Namely this. Remember that there is a reality base for each emotion. For the negative emotions the reality base is that you're in a bad spot. One way or another, you're in a bad spot. And being in that bad spot, you are motivated to get out of that bad spot and to a better spot. And the attempt to get from where you are to a better spot is the emotional behavior. For example, if I recognize that I'm in danger, then I try to escape the danger. If I recognize that I've been provoked, then I counterattack. If I recognize that I have done her wrong, I try to make amends. So for the negative emotions, the behavior consists of trying to change the situation from being in a bad spot to being in a good one, or a better one.
Now because of that, you have to make a lot of distinctions because if you are going to try to make it better, you better not treat a fear situation the way you treat a guilt situation. Your efforts are going to doom you, unless you distinguish the different kinds of bad situations, because what you do about it depends on what kind of bad situation it is. Now in contrast, good fortune doesn't require that you do anything about it. It doesn't put you in the position of "Now I've got to work myself out of this. How do I do it? What are the facts?" On the contrary, with good fortune you jump for joy and you celebrate.
(?) Once you formulate it that way, I start thinking of other positive emotions, like eagerness.
Ossorio: Eagerness is not an emotion.
(?) It's a state.
Ossorio: It's a state. Itís an attitude. Itís a something. But itís not an emotion. Would you believe, nobody in the ten years that I did that ever mentioned eagerness? [laughter] It should be telling.
(?) What about the notion of jumping for joy and having a party and calling your best friend. Why do people do that?
Ossorio: It's sort of like the logic of conspicuous consumption. Think of the notion of the celebration. One of the things you're celebrating is the fact you're not under the gun. There's nothing you have to do and so you take time out. Either you have a party or you do this or that. You parade your good fortune before your friends. It's a triumphal scene and that connects logically to the fact that it's good fortune. It isn't just an accident that with good fortune you do these things any more than it's an accident that with danger you try to escape. It is somehow logically apt.
(?) Is relief an emotion?
Ossorio: I would think not. And in fact, in the statistics, relief was never mentioned anytime in the class either.
(?) What distinguishes a state as emotional?
Ossorio: Remember I said that the emotional behavior is the lynch pin from whence you generate all of the other emotion concepts. Emotional states are characterized by, number one, by how you get into them, and number two, by what your tendencies are when you are in them. How you get into them is that you have the reality basis for the behavior. And number two is that you haven't successfully engaged in the behavior. So for example, I go into a state of fear if I recognize that I am in danger and if I have not yet done anything to successfully escape. I go into a state of anger if I recognize that I've been provoked and I haven't yet done anything to get even. That's where emotional states fit in.
(?) I'm still confused, as to why being eager wouldn't qualify as an emotional state.
Ossorio: It would qualify as a state, but not as an emotional state. Not just any strong motivation is an emotion.
(?) What about gratitude?
Ossorio: The statistics suggest to me that sometimes there is a point in talking about it as an emotion. I generally tend to be conservative on these matters, and for me the conservative approach is not to consider it as an emotion, but rather a relationship. A is grateful to B. And that in particular cases where you have that relationship, you may have other things which taken together you might say "Yeah, thereís a point in saying that's an emotion, or that it is emotion-like."
(?) Does depression count as an emotion?
Ossorio: Depression? No. Depression is another state.
(?) Your original point about joy being good fortune ties in very well to Buddhist Psychology. There's a total overlap for me. In Buddhist thought you try to cultivate your own good fortune. You try to be grateful to everyone for helping you attain enlightenment ...
Ossorio: Sometimes those guys know what they are talking about. [laughter]
(?) Could you say that if you discriminate good fortune and you don't act on it in some way, that creates its own kind of problem?
Ossorio: Yeah. Thatís why there is an action that is the relevant and appropriate action. And indeed, if you have good fortune and just pretend that it never happened, that probably would generate problems.
Okay, let's move on to happiness and satisfaction. Happiness is something very different. And I guess most people would count it as a state. Certainly you hear the phrase, a state of happiness or a state of unhappiness. And what kind of state or condition is it? When is somebody happy? There's a twofold thing. If you are going to be happy, by and large you've got things the way you want them to be. You don't have any outstanding disasters in your life. I guess those are the two. Number one, things are pretty much the way you want them to be. You have what you want. Number two, there is no countervailing bad stuff to negate it.
You might ask then, "Why is it so hard to achieve?" which it is notoriously.
In clinical work, let me mention two things. One is a slogan. The slogan is, "Itís the measuring stick that destroys." And the point of that, is that for something to be satisfactory to you or good as far as you're concerned, you have to evaluate it. And you have to evaluate it against some criterion or standard or essentially a measuring stick. Now we have all kinds of measuring sticks available. Depending on which one we pick, we can generate a wide range of different results. And by and large, at least in clinical work, what I find is that people are not happy because such very bad things happen to them. They are unhappy because they have been using the wrong measuring sticks.
The second one is an image, and it's called "The One-eyed Armenian Grandmother." And that's an explanation of why Reg is such an utter failure. [laughter] Being a one-eyed Armenian grandmother is something that he is now and always will be an absolute failure at. There's no question about it. He is totally hopeless. He will never be even a smidgen of a respectable version of a one-eyed Armenian grandmother. Well, the moral of that story is that you can make anything a failure by measuring it against what it isn't. Put that together with "Itís the measuring stick that destroys," and you can see why there could be a lot more unhappiness than there needs to. Now correspondingly, that also gives you clues about how people could be more happy than they are. Get them to use the right measuring sticks.
(?) Can you be happy and not feel happy?
(?) How? [laughter]
Ossorio: Let me give you a heuristic that is not quite on happiness but I think it will bring out the point. Remember Bobby Fisher of recent fame? Now suppose that you walk in and Bobby Fisher is playing in a tournament and you tap him on the shoulder and you say, "Do you enjoy playing chess?" And he says, "Yeah." And you look at the board and he's losing and you say, "Well, you're playing chess so you must be enjoying yourself right now." And he gets up and socks you. Apply that to happiness.
(?) At NASA there's a saying "The enemy of good is better."
(?) Say that again.
Ossorio: The enemy of good is better. The way Iíve heard it is "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
(?) ... he argues that happiness occurs when a group of significant motives or a significant motive is satisfied. Joy on the other hand, would be when a wide array of personally significant motives are achieved. Happiness is when an aspect of the self participates in the satisfaction. Joy is when the whole self participates.
Ossorio: Yeah. I think he's making much of the same distinction that I did in talking about happiness when I said that things are pretty much the way you want.
(?) But he says that joy is the broader category. And I think in ordinary language it is.
Ossorio: I don't think so. Joy is something that happens at a time, whereas happiness is something that endures for a time. Which reminds me that I haven't talked about satisfaction yet.
(?) Hold on. What are the criterion for ... What makes a measuring stick right?
Ossorio: Nothing. It just is. If you had a case and had all the facts, you could indeed point to things that made it right, but you can always pursue that back and one step back, the answer is "It just is. You can see it." Remember Proof comes to an end. Evidence comes to an end.
Ossorio: Okay, let's put happiness in a context. The context is the Judgment Diagram. You recall the Judgment Diagram has four types of reasons that people have for doing whatever they do: Hedonic, Prudential, Ethical, Esthetic. Now each of those can be used imperialistically. And I really mean each of those. So that, for example, you can say all of these other three are just varieties of hedonic reasons. Or, you can use the second one and say, "All of these others are just variations on self interest." Which is what prudential is. And those are so easy to do, that philosophers have done that. [laughter] Now it's absolutely just as easy to say that all of the other three are variations on the ethical, things being the way they should be. And all of the other three are variations on the esthetic, on things being fitting.
Now once you see that you can do it with any of them, you tend to lose your interest in doing it with any of them. Because what you find is that if you say everything is a different form of self interest, you still have to preserve the distinction between the hedonic type of self interest and the ethical type of self interest, etc. So you havenít gained anything. You've just shuffled things around.
Now in the service of the hedonic version of that, people have pointed to the idea that "After all when you succeed in getting away from the lion, don't you experience pleasure? Of course you do. When you succeed in doing your duty, don't you experience pleasure? Of course you do. See that tells you that all of these are just a variety of pleasure."
Well the answer to that is, "No, you don't experience pleasure. What you experience is satisfaction." When you succeed in getting away from the lion you experience satisfaction, not pleasure. Or not necessarily pleasure. Necessarily satisfaction, maybe sometimes pleasure, but that's probably rare. Certainly when you succeed in doing your duty, you don't experience pleasure. You do experience satisfaction. Because itís no fun to do your duty. There's nothing pleasurable about it. And likewise when you do the appropriate thing, if itís successful you experience satisfaction. So satisfaction is like one of Kohutís things. That's what you experience when a significant motivation is satisfied. You experience satisfaction.
Now notice that these three terms that sound so similar, if you look at the logical map and where they fit, they are not at all close. They are hardly related to each other at all. And yet there is a definite and perfectly good place for each of them.
(?) Are you going to answer the last part of the question, how do you increase the joy in your life? That's my question.
Ossorio: How do people increase the joy in their life? That's where I said, "Use the right measuring stick."