Gladness is a positive emotion that comes from perceived successes.
As with all the positive emotions, gladness is an emotion that arises from caring for people, and this includes one’s self (self-respect). How people are attached to the things they care about is important. If a person’s circumstances are positively affected, the people that care for that person are glad. Gladness always relates to circumstances changing for the better and always describes the positive mood boost that’s experienced. Gladness could be considered one step up from pleasure – the most temporary of the positive emotions – yet one step down from joy, for joy describes a reaction to successes of greater significance.
Pleasure – Gladness – Joy – Elation
Positive emotions are primarily concerned with any form of prosperity. Thus, they’re also highly associated with the completion of plans and objectives. For example, if a planned day out with a friend went well the people responsible for the outing would feel glad, and they’d experience a minor psychological and neuro-biological lift, yet if the planned event was more significant, involving the achievement of hopes, they would feel overjoyed or elated.
When an attempt to achieve an objective fails, people become frustrated. If people put time and energy into completing a task, it puts a degree of strain on their psychological and neuro-biological systems. All negative emotions, in their varying intensities, narrow attention and cause focus to become more analytical on whatever elicited the troubling perception.1 People’s mental processes are instinctively altered to accommodate problem solving in a more external, slow, and effortful way; this taxes neural pathways and is an instinctive attempt to focus the mind on learning solutions.2 If the expenditure is met with failure, they will experience more negative emotion, which further stresses their nerves and biological systems, and causes them to become progressively more alert and vigilant. If this continues, it increasingly causes stressful rumination.
When people achieve a perceived task or objective towards a goal, they feel glad. The time and energy they have directed towards completing the task has been effectively used and no more effort is needed. All positive emotions, in their varying intensities, release people from focused analytical thinking.3 Evidence suggests that there’s a left-hemispheric bias to positive emotions and a right-hemispheric bias to negative emotions.4 Thus, the theory is that to some degree positive emotion instinctively causes people to switch from the brain systems that were being used to focus on the completion of a task, so a neurological shift from searching thoughts based more in the right-hemisphere to more relaxed systems in the left-hemisphere takes place. There is an automatic release of mental, neuro-biological and physiological tension when this happens. Positive emotions are part of the process of perceiving a solution to a problem. They release people from the tension created by a negative emotion that was motivating focus on a problem. Relief is felt simultaneously with a positive emotion.
Negative emotions aid people to achieve goals that then provide them with positive emotion. Emotions are part of the process of maintaining balance through change. Good health is not brought about by maximising positive emotions and minimising negative emotions. It requires optimal functioning of both negative and positive emotional processing.5
Gladness is typically accompanied by a moderate release of tension that’s associated with the positivity that comes from being able to include a completed task on the way towards achieving a goal. The tasks that can lead to gladness are far more abundant than the joy of achieving the goals they serve. Although the intensity of gladness is moderate, its abundancy means it’s the bread and butter or meat and potatoes that sustains a buoyant mood. Keeping one’s self glad maintains a course en route to one’s hopes coming true.
Old English. Glaed = bright, shining, joyous.
1. Having a cheerful or happy disposition.