Joy and happiness: a simultaneous and evolutionary concept analysis

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To report a simultaneous and evolutionary analysis of the concepts of joy and long-term happiness.


Joy and happiness are underrepresented in the nursing literature, though negative concepts are well represented. When mentioned in the literature, neither joy nor happiness is adequately defined, explained, or clearly understood. To promote further investigation of these concepts in nursing and to explore their relationship with health and healing, conceptual clarity is an essential first step.


Concept analysis.

Data sources

The following databases were searched, without time restrictions, for articles in English: Academic Search Complete, Anthropology Plus; ATLA Religious Database with ATLASerials; Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL); Education Research Complete; Humanities International Complete; Psych EXTRA; and SocINDEX with Full Text. The final sample size consists of 61 articles and one book, published between 1978–2014.


An adapted combination of Rodgers' Evolutionary Model and Haase et al.'s Simultaneous Concept Analysis (SCA) method.


Though both are positive concepts, joy and happiness have significant differences. Attributes of joy describe a spontaneous, sudden and transient concept associated with connection, awareness, and freedom. Attributes of happiness describe a pursued, long-lasting, stable mental state associated with virtue and self-control.


Further exploration of joy and happiness is necessary to ascertain their relationship with health and their value to nursing practice and theory development. Nurses are encouraged to consider the value of positive concepts to all areas of nursing.

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