The Joyride Project

Research Study

Joyride: Thriving on the Road to Joy

(November 2017 - Present)

Research Team

Pam King, Principal Investigator

Susan Mangan, Research Associate

Fred Defoy, Research Assistant

Funded By

This project was made possible through the support of a generous grant by the John Templeton Foundation through the Yale Center of Faith of Culture.


Project Overview

As part of the Yale Center of Faith of Culture's Theology of Joy and the Good Life Project, the Joyride Project seeks to integrate the theological and psychological perspectives of joy and flourishing into a monograph. In addition, the greater project will contribute to the scholarly literature (i.e. developmental psychology) and the popular Christian literature. In this way, "the mission beyond the mission" of the project is to contribute to scholarly and popular movements of thriving, flourishing, and joy through publication, presentation, creative marketing, and social media. Our aim is to provide information on the nature of joy and thriving and how to nurture joy in the lives of young people, 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 will address the aspirational topics of joy and thriving in a manner that is not just informational, but inspirational, serving as an invitation to readers to pursue a life of thriving and joy for themselves and the young people in their lives. 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: (1) to focus on deepening scientific understanding of joy and laying the theoretical and measurement groundwork for further study on joy, and (2) to expand a common understanding of joy as a virtue and how it promotes thriving.

Practices to cultivate 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.

Articles on Joy

Thriving on the Road to Joy

By Pam 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.

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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.

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Nurturing Joy in Youth During the Holidays, Pt. 1

By Fred Defoy | Dec 9, 2019

How can we nurture joy in youth when faced by challenges? Thrive Fellow, Fred Defoy outlines the activators that can enable joy.

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Related Publications

Joy as a Virtue: the Means & Ends of Joy

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

Joy Distinguished

Dr. King provides a teleological perspective on joy as a virtue that can lead to thriving.

Selected Presentations

The difference between joy and 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.

The connection between joy and purpose

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

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.

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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.

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