What Is it About a Face That Brings Joy?

This is true, isn’t it?

Having coffee with your friend simply brings you joy.

When you are in a crowd, you scan the crowd hoping for someone to recognize you and when you are recognized, you feel joy—and the crowd feels more manageable.

When you pray for your friends, you see their faces and those faces bring you joy, even if you are praying for something dire.

How deeply do you feel when you see a picture of a face of someone you love who has passed on?

When I preach at church there are certain faces I continually look at who give me the confidence to go on.

When you feel lonely, you feel unseen.

Think back to when you were in school. Did you learn more when a teacher saw you? (Much love to the teachers. I believe they are more important than youth pastors to grow the next generation.)

During the pandemic we desired to see faces so we learned Zoom.

And then there is the face of the one you love so much your heart opens wide. That face brings you the most joy.

Have you also noticed how joy leads your body to a physical expression of joy? You hug your friend you just had coffee with. When in the crowd you wave your hands furiously to be seen because you are so joyous at being seen. When you pray for your friends, your face smiles. When I see those faces in church, I stand taller. When I see the face of who I love, I’m a self-demonstrative mess of communication with hugs, kisses, and touching.

This physical expression may be the biggest difference between happiness and joy.

When we had this conversation at my church to describe joy, a visitor just had to contribute. She has been learning that being with like-minded people was giving her life joy. Notice the faces in that revelation.

Joy does not exist outside of a relationship.

Science tells us a whole lot about what it is about a face that brings joy. Time together is always nicer in person, it is a more full experience. You are learning to pick up subtle clues that help you navigate your life, particularly that discerner part of your life. You lead your life with more trust. Happy faces have motivational power. “People who smile are rated more favorably by others and interactions with them are expected to be rewarding. This might be one reason why cheerful people are happier, have a lower divorce rate, and live longer than less cheerful people. …A happy face signals positive emotions, as well as attachment availability, care, support, and credibility.” There’s some science for you found at https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356968/

Then there is the “still face experiment that shows the power of a face.

Did the power of this experiment break your heart just a bit? Especially those of us with “momma hearts?” It is hard to watch.

This is why this neurological definition of joy was created. This definition is:

“Joy is what you experience when you can see in another person’s face and eyes that they are happy to be with you.”

–Dr. Allan Schore of UCLA psychiatry

Did your soul just leap a bit because you know this to be true? Did you realize a face was so important to joy? Joy is the fuel your right-brain needs to function which means you need faces in your life.

I know that sometimes life feels safer in isolation. Especially when you are stuck in Overwhelmed Land.

Make the brave decision to have good faces in your life. There is so much to this gift of people.


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