The Joyride Project

Research Study

Joyride: Exploring the Nature and Function of Joy

Project Dates

November 2017—Present

Research Team

Pamela Ebstyne King, Principal Investigator

Susan Mangan, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Fred Defoy, Student Researcher

Funded By

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

Thriving Through Joy Initiative

In collaboration with Claremont Graduate University, the Thriving Through Joy Initiative aims to heighten an understanding of joy as a virtue among scholar-practitioners and the general public, and highlight the ethical and spiritual dimensions of joy. The project has two prongs:

  • To focus on deepening scientific understanding of joy and laying the theoretical and measurement groundwork for further study on joy, and
  • To expand a common understanding of joy as a virtue and how it promotes thriving.

Related Publications

Joy: A Guide to Youth Ministry
Joy: A Guide for youth Ministry

Published in partnership with Yale University, a myriad of scholars reflect on the importance of joy in youth ministry, including Dr. Pam King and Dr. Steven Argue, Associate Professor of Youth, Family, and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, who co-author the chapter, Purpose: Finding Joy in Life Direction. This book focuses on practices that enhance joy by pointing to the contingency of human life and our participation with God's redemption work for all creation.

Joy as a Virtue: Means & Ends of Joy

Dr. King and Thrive Fellow, Defoy propose a definition and framework for understanding joy through thriving.

Joy Distinguished: Teleological Perspectives on Joy

Dr. King propose a teleological framework to conceptualize joy as a virtue that can lead to thriving.

Related Resources

Practices to Cultivating Joy

Joy is more than just an emotion. It is a transformational virtue of knowing, feeling, and doing what matters most in our lives. Joy can propel youth to move forward and thrive through the highroads and valleys of life when it becomes a daily practice. Dr. Pam King outlines the 4 practices to cultivating and experience joy on a daily basis.

Keep these 4 simple practices handy in your home or office with this free printable guide.

Breaking Open: The Joys and Laments of Vaccinated Living

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Apr 30, 2021

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

5 Joy Competencies to Counter the Effects of Confinement During COVID-19, Pt. 2

By Fred Defoy | Jul 23, 2020

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

5 Joy Competencies to Counter the Effects of Confinement During COVID-19, Pt. 1

By Fred 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.

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? Dr. Pam King highlights the 3 essentials needed.

Nurturing Joy in Youth During the Holidays, Pt. 2

By Fred Defoy | Dec 16, 2019

Thrive Fellow, Fred Defoy continues his discussion on the activators that promote joy in youth during the holidays.

Nurturing Joy in Youth During the Holidays

By Fred Defoy | Dec 9, 2019

Student Researcher, Fred Defoy outlines the first 3 of 5 activators that can enable joy in youth during the holidays.

Selected Presentations

Joy vs. Happiness

Dr. Pam King explains the key differences between happiness and joy, and points to purpose the key to discovering true joy in this interview with the Yale Youth Ministry Institute.


This interview was published by Yale Youth Ministry Institute.

Purpose and Joy

Why is purpose so important to joy? Dr. Pam King discusses how pursuing purpose can help youth discover true joy in this interview with the Yale Youth Ministry Institute.


This interview was published by Yale Youth Ministry Institute.

Joy on Purpose

Drawing on their backgrounds in ministry, theology, and psychology, Dr. Pam King and Dr. Steven Argue, Associate Professor of Youth, Family, and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, offer insights and practical suggestions for enabling youth ministers to nurture a sense of purpose through discovering one’s place in God’s story at Yale Divinity School.


This interview was published by Yale Youth Ministry Institute.

The R'Ode to Joy

Dr. Pam King refers to Paul's letter to the Philippians to illustrate how we can achieve joy through participation in God’s ongoing work, partnership with others, and
purposeful living.


This interview was published by Knox Presbyterian Church.

Media Coverage

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How to Experience Joy During COVID-19

Dr. Pam King continues her discussion on  how to experience joy during a pandemic in this part two interview on Psychology Today.

 

What is Joy and 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.

 

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

Baptist News reports on Dr. Pam King and other scholars' plenary addresses 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 to share the important elements students need on their journey towards joy.