The Joyride Project

Project Dates

November 2017—Present

Research Team

Principal Investigator: Pamela Ebstyne King

Postdoctoral Research Associate: Susan Mangan

Student Researchers: Frederic Defoy and Rebecca Baer

Funded By

This project was made possible through the generous grant, Theology of Joy and the Good Life Project from the John Templeton Foundation held by the Yale Center of Faith and Culture.

Project Overview

This project seeks to integrate the theological and psychological perspectives of joy and flourishing. Our aim is to provide information on the nature of joy and thriving and how to nurture joy in our lives, answering the following questions:

  • What is joy?
  • What is flourishing and thriving?
  • How are joy and thriving related?
  • How does joy develop in people, specifically youth?
  • What kinds of contexts, communities, relationships, and practices are conducive to promoting joy and thriving?
  • What are the implications for congregations, families, and other youth-related organizations?

We address the aspirational topics of joy and thriving in a manner that is not just informational, but inspirational, serving as an invitation to others to pursue a life of thriving and joy for themselves and the young people in their lives. In addition, the project will contribute to the scholarly literature (e.g., developmental psychology) and the popular Christian literature. Our resources will also focus on the significance of transformative relationships and a transcendent narrative in the formation of purpose and the virtue of joy.

Selected Presentations

  • King, P.E. (2019, January 22). Joyride: Thriving on the Road to Joy. Speech at Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.
  • King, P.E. (July 2018). Joyride: Thriving on the Road to Telos. Plenary address at the Future of Joy and the Good Life Conference at the Center for Faith and Culture at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CN.
  • King, P. E. (September 2018). JoyRide: Paul's Understanding of Joy in Philippians. Sermon preached at Knox Presbyterian Church, Pasadena, CA.
  • King, P. E. & Argue, S. (October 2016). Joy on Purpose. Presentation at the Yale Youth Ministry Institute Lecture Series on Joy and the Good Life, New Haven, CN.

Related Publications

Joy Guide for Youth Ministry book cover

Joy: A Guide for youth Ministry

Chapter 4 by Pamela Ebstyne King and Steven Argue

Published in partnership with Yale University, a myriad of scholars reflect on the importance of joy in youth ministry.

Thrive Center's Dr. Pamela Ebstyne King and Fuller Seminary's Dr. Steven Argue co-write the fourth chapter, Purpose: Finding Joy in Life Direction, offering suggestions on how youth leaders can nurture a sense of purpose and enhance joy in adolescents.

More Readings on Joy

Moments of transcendence

By Jilleen Westbrook | Sep 2, 2022

According to psychologist and executive director of the Thrive Center, Pamela Ebstyne King, transcendent experiences are emotional responses, often profound, that inform how individuals see themselves in relationship to God, others, and the world.  Transcendent experiences give our lives meaning, and shift our focus from ourselves, connecting us with something more – whether that be…

Read More

Rethinking Traditional Church for a Modern Age

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Aug 1, 2022

Pamela King reflects on the church of her youth and how it deeply formed her identity, sense of purpose, and belonging.

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The 5 A’s of Agility: Adapting through Life Changes

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jul 4, 2022

Finding joy requires practice. Learn how you can be agile and experience more joy through our 5-step process.

Read More

Deep Fulfillment Through the Practice of Joy

By Rebecca Baer | Jul 4, 2022

Joy is more than an emotion. Rebecca Baer reflects on true joy as being rooted in love, sharing a mindfulness practice.

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The 5 B’s of Thriving: Accessing God’s Love

By Thrive Center | May 2, 2022

Our research-based framework will help you develop and strengthen your thriving “muscles.”

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Breaking Open: The Joys and Laments of Vaccinated Living

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Apr 30, 2021

As our country slowly begins to re-open, Pamela King calls us to re-orient our lives towards what matters most and brings us joy.

Read More

Science Agrees You Need Laughter

By Susan Mangan | Oct 12, 2020

Research shows that humor can ease stress. Dr. Susan Mangan shares 3 exercises to help us get started.

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Finding Agility through the 5 A’s

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Sep 30, 2020

Part of our journey towards thriving involves agility. Pamela King explains how we can be agile through this 5-step process.

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5 Joy Competencies for difficult times, Pt. 2

By Frederic Defoy | Jul 23, 2020

Thrive Fellow, Fred Defoy discusses spiritual joy and vocational joy as resources to help us thrive in hard times.

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5 Joy Competencies for difficult times, Pt. 1

By Frederic Defoy | Jun 15, 2020

Thrive fellow, Fred Defoy shares the first 3 joy competencies that can help us thrive through our bodies, creativity, and sense of belonging.

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Homebound: Protecting Our Spiritual Health

By Angela Gorrell | Mar 26, 2020

Guest blogger, Dr. Angela Gorrell emphasizes the importance of nurturing our spiritual health in order to thrive during COVID-19.

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Thriving on the Road to Joy

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jan 22, 2020

How can caring adults equip youth for a journey of long-lasting joy? Pamela King highlights the 3 essentials needed.

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Helping Youth Rediscover Joy: Vocation and Spirituality

By Frederic Defoy | Dec 16, 2019

In this part two post, discover how joy can be nurtured spiritually and vocationally in youth.

Read More

Helping Youth Rediscover Joy: Body Senses and Connection

By Frederic Defoy | Dec 9, 2019

Learn how you can nurture joy in adolescents through their body senses and relationships.

Read More

Media Coverage

What is Joy? What Does it Say About Us?

Dr. Pam King joins Dr. Jaime Aten on Psychology Today to talk about the meaning and depth of joy in this part one interview.

How to Experience Joy During COVID-19

Dr. Pam King discusses how one can experience joy as the pandemic continues in this part two interview on Psychology Today.

On the Pathway of Jesus: Can Life be a Joy Ride

Dr. Pam King with other scholars give a plenary address on joy at the Future of Joy and the Good Life Conference in Yale Divinity School.

Health & Wellbeing Day Gives Students A Day to Discover

Dr. Pam King joins Santa Catalina School's Health and Well-Being Day as the keynote speaker, sharing the elements students need on their joy ride.

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