Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Happiness/Joy

When it comes to emotion, sometimes we need a brainstorming nudge. After all, each character will express their feelings differently depending on their personality, emotional range, and comfort zone. We hope this short, sample list of expressions will help you better imagine how your character might show this emotion!

If you need to go deeper, we have detailed lists of body language, visceral sensations, dialogue cues, and mental responses for 130 emotions in the 2019 expanded second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.


We’re placing these two emotions together as they share many reactions, but the ‘range’ of feeling can be more intense with pure joy, depending on the level being experienced.

• Noticing the small things around them (smelling the roses, so to speak)
• showing affection—hugging, touching, etc
• rapping the fingers lightly (as if to internal music) on a leg or other surface
• swinging/tapping a foot to an easy beat
• showing patience
• bouncing on one’s toes
• rapid speaking
• a feeling of breathlessness
• tingling hands
• a need to share the intense feeling with others
• lightness in the limbs
• an energetic walk, quick movements, no hesitation
• a desire to be with loved ones or friends
• fearlessness
• risk taking…

Win your readers’ hearts by tailoring your character’s emotional responses so they’re compelling, credible, and realistic.

If you struggle with writing emotions, you aren’t alone. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression has helped writers all over the globe, and it can help you. To find out more about this bestselling book, please visit our bookstore.

Prefer the flexibility of instant online access and greater searchability?

The Emotion Thesaurus is also at our sister site, One Stop for Writers. Visit the Emotion Thesaurus Page to view our complete list of entries.

TIP: While you’re there, check out our hyper-intelligent Character Builder that helps you create deep, memorable characters in half the time!



Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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Scratchy Paw
11 years ago

My “master” is always happy with me. Now I have lots of ways to blog about it. Thank you.