There’s probably no better story about when and where an author started writing a book than that of the journalist Angela Köckritz: She had been on a trip to Senegal, sitting on the beach looking out at the sea during a blackout, when she felt that she’d like to write a little something. That little something then turned into a whole book. A book about different kinds of joy and about what happens in our brains when we feel it.
Ms. Köckritz, you’ve explored the topic of joy as if it were uncharted territory, although one might think that we should actually be quite familiar with the feeling of joy?
Of course, we all know joy. What fascinated me as I was writing my book was the realization that each type of joy has its own color, its own texture, its own taste. As I began to focus my attention on these different kinds of joy, I realized there are so many more joys than I had ever imagined.
It was a joyful surprise so to say.
I thought joy was a feeling I understood very well. When I looked more closely, however, I realized there’s so much more. It’s a bit like thinking about how many different types of cheese there are, probably hundreds of thousands. Another thing is that one type of joy can have very different nuances. If you enjoy dancing, for example, it can feel very different depending on your mood, on the song, on the time of day. Often joy is something that runs alongside us. We may have something on our mind, things to do, and in between we realize: Ah, I was enjoying myself just there! By working on the book, joy suddenly became my main occupation. [laughs] And just by paying attention to it, I found that my days were filled with much more joy than I had previously realized. Even on those rainy and cold days that I had previously dismissed as rather joyless, there was always something to be happy about.