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Apparently the profession has been around for a while now, yet when I was introduced by a friend to his “joyologist”, I couldn’t keep the surprise from showing on my face. It seems like something that ought to exist, like car mechanic or animal doctor, yet I thought the profession already existed, under another name.

It was, after all, a word for someone whose job it is (and now I am quoting from the Internet, which is quite a joyologist in its own way) “to support and encourage your physical and mental health, so you truly live and love your life.”

As I said, I thought there was already a word for it. Many words, in fact. Pick the one you like best: friend, spouse, partner, lifecoach (forcibly making that a single word to be able to squeeze it in here). Also standupcomic (another squeeze), psychiatrist, income-tax-official-who-gives-you-a- refund. The list can be long and endless, but let’s examine “joyologist” further.

Unlike a friend, he (or she) is trained to laugh at all your jokes, point out just when to give up and not let the story of Bruce and the spider make you go on and on with something unprofitable in the hope of reversing the trend, and can distinguish between your bad mood and a fit of madness which you are likely to regret.

A thing of beauty, wrote the Keats, is a joy forever. So a joyologist can also be known as a thing-of-beautyologist. On the other hand, the philosopher Lao Tze said non-being is the greatest joy. But you don’t need the services of a joyologist if you don’t exist. This is one of the reasons philosophers cause much mirth (and yes, joy) whenever they speak seriously.

If that hasn’t confused you yet, here’s Cesare Pavese, the Italian novelist and poet: The only joy in the world is to begin.

So, from what I can tell, joy is a thing of beauty if you don’t exist but particularly exciting if you do begin to exist. And don’t ignore this from the existentialist Soren Kierkegaard: life’s highest, most splendid moment of enjoyment is accompanied by death.

Ouch! So now you know why I had a look of surprise on my face when I met my first professional joyologist. It wasn’t the rarity of the profession, nor even the range of its scope. But the hint that joyologists must be careful about distributing too much joy to one single person. Spread it till it falls just short of life’s highest and most splendid moment of enjoyment and all is well. But not another step…

Perhaps I am over-analysing. But – and you may quote me – there’s joy in that too.

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