The Fear and Joy Connection

The Fear & Joy Connection

General Concepts.

The Fear and Joy Connection is an exceptionally simple concept.   It measures your happiness by adding all of the Joys in your life and then subtracts all of the Fears.  It is shown in the cartoon, and explained in more detail in the Read More link below.

Because it is simplistic it strengthens its validity.   For example, many scientists scoffed at Albert Einstein’s equation of E = MC² as too simplistic.  They said it was so simple that had to be an error.  They were wrong.

Beautiful simplicity is the rule of nature not the exception. 

There are scientific observations done by Barbra Fredrickson that provide evidence that positive emotions (joy) appear to undo negative emotions (fear).  This beautifully simplistic concept works.

In the cartoon, the three lines of people are carrying buckets of liquid Joy representing an ever-lasting supply of this precious  fluid.  The biggest line represents Joy from the family and the love of family.  This is described in greater detail in the chapter on family.   The second line carries buckets of Joy associated with activities such as humor, inspiring stories, hobbies, nature’s incredible beauty, etc. 

The third line totes buckets of spiritual Joy (coming soon).

The Cauldron is full with a beautiful blue liquid representing happiness. 

As in all aspects of life, there’s also a negative side.  Three drain pipes represent the loss of happiness that is associated with losses from fears.  

The right drain pipe relates to the amount of happiness being removed because of fear caused by manipulation.  There is a valve on that pipe that is controlled by an illusive Elf.   The Elf turns the valve to control the amount of happiness flowing out.  So be nice to Elves.  They turn the valve in relation to the frequency and amount of manipulation occurring. 

For example, with respect to manipulated fears, the more knowledge a person acquires results in less manipulation, and that reduces the loss of valuable happiness liquid.   On the other hand if the person is extremely fearful, the Elf opens the valve a little more.

The middle drain relates to fears associated with personality traits.  This varies dramatically depending on the type and amount of fears applicable to their personality type.  

For example, a Type A person may have a large amount of fears associated with a perceived loss of control. The Type B personality may have their greatest fears relating to the loss of a friend. 

An Elf turns the valve depending on the ability of the personality type to handle each particular fear.  An A-type person would have no problem terminating a under performing employee whereas a B-type may suffer great stress in losing an employee friend.  But, B-type personality may fly through public speaking with ease whereas the same fear will send a C-type through the roof.  The Elf takes all these factors into account in closing or opening the personality valve.

The left drain relates to the number and type of particular fears.  A person afraid of everything may lose so much of the treasured blue liquid, that it drains the Cauldron too quickly.  The valve on this drain pipe controls the amount and promptness of treatment.  If the fear is big, such as being abnormal, it must be treated immediately. 

With the reduction of fears comes more happiness.   This sounds simplistic, but this is how nature works – remember Einstein’s equation. 

The Cauldron also has a meter that measures the happiness level.  It displays the range of good happiness levels and flashes a warning if it drops too low.  This was obviously installed at the request of a Type D Personality in consultation with a C Type engineer.  The meter goes off when:

  • you’re feeling down,
  • when you’re becoming too sarcastic, or
  • the ultimate, when you begin to swear. 

When that happens, it is time to work on reducing fears and adding Joy.

Perhaps it’s time to start your family.  Since this is the larges supply of joy, it may be an excellent place to begin.   Going to church is always a good idea.  Or, maybe it’s time to take that vacation.  Camping out in the back yard and looking at the Milky Way Galaxy is good for a couple buckets of Joy. 

Then there’s the biggie.  It’s referred to the “double shot” because it adds joy while simultaneously cutting fear in one fell swoop.  It’s called forgiveness.  If you have difficulty understanding this trait, checkout the link for the D-Type personality.  It’s one of their dominate traits.

How Much Joy Should One Have?

The Fear & Joy ConnectionIs the girl in the picture having too much fun? 

This is the old half empty or half full perception argument. 

Here is a better example.  In 1960 a song came out about a couple of teenagers in love.  Their car was stalled upon the railroad tracks.  They both got out in time.  But the girlfriend went back to get her boy friends’ high school ring and was killed.  Yes, naysayers would say that she was killed because of love.  But, love did not kill that girl.  The death certificate said her death was blunt force trauma from being hit by a train. 

Whenever someone attempts to side track your argument (Red Herring Fallacy) with “too much happiness is bad” or “love caused it“, pull out the big guns with evidence, logic, and common sense. 

Worrying that too much happiness is harmful sounds like a false negative thought.  If the Cauldron over-fills, then:

nothing happens. 

You will still be happy. 

Which Joy Should I Select to Help Reduce My Particular Fears?

Joy ConnectionThis is called Fear-Joy Pairing.  Pairing is at attempt to select the right Joy that will provide the greatest benefit for a particular Fear.   It is full of assumptions, generalizations and opinions.  The only thing that counts is what you believe is applicable.

There is not a one-size-fits all method. 

More importantly an individual must select which Joy brings them the greatest satisfaction.   Picking a Joy that might bring the best solution to a fear, may do not perform as intended.   It must be fun and enjoyable to even count as a Joy. 

The following guidelines may be helpful in this task. 

(1) You must understand the underlying cause of the fear to distinguish between what is real and what is a false negative thought; and

(2) You need to try and re-associate the anxiety with something safe, normal, or enjoyable. 

A table in the link below illustrates how one might analyze the Joy selection.  Then there is the obvious.  Some Joys may not be suitable for every person.  For example, rock climbing is probably not advisable for a 70 year old person with heart, back, or neck problems.

What is Your Rough Joy to Fear Ratio?

Fear and Joy ConnectionThis is very easy to calculate.   Add up all of the Joys (positive emotions) and divide by the sum of all of the Fears (negative emotions) in the last quarter or month.   This results in a rough approximation.  

 Barbara Fredrickson researched specific and powerful negative emotions and specific and measurable positive emotions.  Dr. Fredrickson is a professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 525 East University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1109, USA .   She reported that individuals who flourished had a positive to negative emotion ratio of 3.2 to 1.  For languishing individuals the ratio dropped to 2.3 to 1   People that were cascading toward dissolution had a ratio of 0.8 to 1.   This is consistent with the study by Baumeister R and Bratslavaky E, Bad is Stronger than Good Review of General Psychology, 2001. Vol. 5. No. 4. 323-370. 

The rough joy to fear ratio used here does not take into account differences in frequency, intensity or the remedial actions that restrict the effective magnitude of both.   It only counts the number of joys and the number of fears, and divides the fears into the joys. 

What is your rough Joy to Fear ratio?  If it is above 3 you’re probably okay.  If it is below 2 you may need some help either in reducing a Fear or adding more Joy.   It indicates that in general, you need 3 times more Joys than Fears to maintain your happiness level. 

What is Your Adjusted Joy to Fear Ratio?

The Rough Joy to Fear ratio does not take into account the intensity of the fear or the frequency of experiencing those fears.  Hence, a fear which is intense counts the same as a fear that is mild.  The same issue applies to the how often these fears are encountered per year or month. 

This section attempts to take into account the intensity and frequency in a general way.  This is shown in link below.  Worksheets are displayed and involve a little more work than the Rough ratio above.   It should give you a slightly more accurate ratio. 

It should be a fun exercise and it is about you.  Since fun is humor, and humor is a Joy, it’s worth the effort.    Click on the link below and give it a shot.

Practice Exercise

John is 38 years old and a Type C individual.  He has been married to Jane for 15 years and they have three children.  He is a computer engineer working for a social media company.  He enjoys putting Jigsaw puzzles together, going to the Theater, watching his children play soccer, and reading his Horoscope once a week.  He has been doing Jigsaw puzzles and reading his Horoscope more than normal. 

He hasn’t gone to the Theater for several years even though it is his most pleasurable activity.  He loves nature, and usually goes camping three times every year.  He only went twice in the last 12 months.  He is afraid of flying but he forces himself to do it four times a year.  This year was no different.  

His worst fear is public speaking, and he spoke more this year than ever before.  He has an average fear of meeting strangers at parties and seeks out those he know to avoid talking to strangers.  Going to parties were about average in number.

Although baptized a Catholic, he had not attended church services for the last 10 years. 

Recently he found himself being sarcastic to Jane once or twice a day and yelling at his kids.  His job requires him to return home at different hours and because of that the family does not regularly eat dinner together. 

What is John’s rough Joy to Fear ratio.

What is John’s adjusted Joy to Fear ratio.

What should John do to bring more happiness into his life.

John’s rough Joy to Fear ratio is 2.6.  This places him in the needs improvement zone.  If you counted the theater as a Joy, that would be an over-count.  He has not been to the theater for several years.  Likewise he has not been to church in 10 years. 

John’s adjusted Joy to Fear ratio is 1.8.  This places him in the danger zone and he must do something.

Adjusted Joy/Fear Calculations:

The total adjusted Joy (F times P) in the Worksheet 1 is 8.3.

His total adjusted fears (F times S) from worksheet 2 is 4.6. 

This means John’s adjusted Joy to Fear ratio is 1.8.  

The first thing that John should do is reduce the level of fear of Public Speaking.  This is a major problem since his fear score on that one issue was the highest.  It is more than all of the other fears combined.  Perhaps John should join a Dale Carnegie course or similar training course to reduce his public speaking stresses.  Or he might try riding on a roller coaster several times before each speech.  

If he did nothing else but cure his Public Speaking fear, that would increase his adjusted score to 3.7, which is way above the level needed.  But totally eliminating that fear would not be realistic. 

If he reduced the number of times he had to speak to a normal level and reduced his fear stress level to average, then the adjusted ratio would be 2.6.  That would be great but a score of 3 or above is recommended.

If John did not do anything to fix any of his fears, then he needs to add more Joy s or improve his Joy frequency and pleasure. 

For example, if he resumed his normal camping frequency it would increase his Score to 1.9.  That is not much help.  If he also returned to going to the Theater on his normal schedule, that would increase his Score to 2.3.  Good progress but not enough. 

If John attended church services plus ate dinner with his family he could increase his calculated score to 2.7.  Sprinkle in a belly laugh from a comedy club and learn how to dance would increase his score to 3.4. 


A couple things become apparent from doing this exercise.  

Fear has more of a negative effect on happiness than Joy, so it is important to quickly treat your fears. 

Joy is easier to do, more enjoyable, and will bring happiness to you and others around you.

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