The influence of joy ( 1916 ) by George Van Ness Dearborn

The influence of joy ( 1916 )

The influence of joy


One of the many unhappy circumstances of this life of ours (which, after all, numerous really intelligent people rather dislike to leave) is the fashion prevalent in superior circles of deeming conscious and obvious happiness undignified. 

This harsh but permeating spirit of the old Bay Colony is not yet wholly dead among us, although echo of a day when to kiss one's wife or to smile on the Sabbath was a fault. At its very best it is all, of course, a part of the sadly mistaken notion of Brother Giles, for example, that the body, that miracle! , is " a devil's knight fighting against salvation ", a prejudice which for fifteen centuries has kept the fair appreciation of the body and its victories far below its just valuation in the world's common mind. Joy, on the contrary, is the empirical index of the normal activity of unified mind and body, — the life man was meant to live, rational and unafraid.


For it is only in recent years that science has made any exhaustive use of its marvelous methods of research to ascertain the specific effects of joy and other emotions on bodily states. The great impetus to a systematic investigation in this important field came from the experimental work of the late Professor Pavlov, appointed in 1891 chief of the then newly organized Institute for Experimental Medicine in Petrograd. In this institute, Professor Pavlov fitted up a laboratory specially equipped for investigation of the processes of digestion, which, by ingenious devices, he was able to study, in the case both of animals and of human beings, more thoroughly than they had ever been studied before. A direct result of his studies, continued through a long term of years, was an increasingly precise demonstration of the manner in which the digestive mechanism is affected for good and for evil by emotional conditions.


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