I make a lot of my writing lists with two goals in mind: cut down on the time you spend trying to think of a simple phrase when you’re writing, and help you switch things up by giving you more options. That’s why I posted my Master List of Ways to Describe Anger the other week.

When I shared it on my Facebook author page, one person told me she expected a paywall when she clicked. That was a pretty nice compliment!



It’s true that I’m probably going to include several lists about how to describe emotions and feelings in the next edition of my book Master Lists for Writers. But for now, since you’re subscribed to my blog or found your way there, you can get a few of those lists for free.

Most of the time, you can express emotions through internal monologue, dialogue, and actions. Once in a while, though, you run into the need to describe the feeling in the point of view of your character.

There are really infinite ways to convey emotion in writing. I have 100 ways here to describe happiness, joy, contentment, hope, and gratitude here. They’re not in any particular order — really, it’s just the order that I thought of them. 🙂

They aren’t all going to be ones you use personally, because every writer is different! Chances are, they’ll make you think of even more words and phrases.

Bookmark or pin this list, and you’ll always have it for reference!


Master List of Ways to Describe Joy and Happiness #bryn donovan #lists for writers #words to describe emotions #phrases


his heart leaped up for joy

he felt a surge of happiness

I was paralyzed with happiness

her mood lifted

she was bursting with joy

he could hardly contain his happiness

his mood lightened

my spirits brightened

hope bloomed inside her

happiness glowed inside him

he felt a sudden flare of joy

I could barely conceal my delight

she was flabbergasted with joy

sunshine flooded her soul

his spirits were flying high

her hopes soared

she felt like her feet barely touched the ground

joy engulfed me



it cheered her soul

joy took hold of him

inside, she was smiling

she almost jumped for joy

happiness overtook him

she took a defiant joy in it

happiness streaked through him like a comet

a quiet contentment spread through him

contentment filled her heart

happiness trembled inside of her

his heart dared to hope

happiness swelled within her

gratitude flowed through her

had she ever been happier in her life?

it elevated his mood

he couldn’t think of a time he’d ever been happier

her joy unfolded like a flower

she felt a glimmer of happiness

he felt dizzy with excitement

joy rushed through me

my happiness was so intense it scared me

he thought he would die of joy

her heart was singing

she felt drunk with happiness

he was intoxicated with joy

his heart throbbed with happiness

she burned with a fierce joy



happiness crept over him

it was almost more happiness than she could take

he knew a profound joy

her happiness grew

I was wild with joy

happiness expanded inside him

he was suffused with happiness

joy sparkled inside her

happiness shimmered inside me

happiness danced through her thoughts

he almost collapsed with happiness

it raised his spirits

it brought my spirits up

contentment warmed her from within

happiness radiated through him

he’d never felt more alive

she felt fully and wonderfully alive

I was filled with joyful energy

she could’ve wept for joy

I wanted to shout for joy

he was weak with gratitude

his heart pounded with happiness

she savored the feeling of contentment

a sudden feeling of happiness surprised him

an unexpected happiness consumed her

happiness made me feel invincible

joy rippled through him

gratitude welled up inside her

he felt a flush of happiness

happiness resonated through him

she was transported with joy

it was almost too much happiness to bear

contentment tiptoed into her heart

he was overcome with happiness

he’d unearthed a greater joy than any he’d ever known

her spirits bounded higher

it brought him a ray of happiness

she felt a whisper of happiness

he felt an inkling of joy



she felt a stab of hope

satisfaction settled in his soul

happiness washed over her

his soul took flight

she felt in love with the whole world

he had no words for the gratitude he felt

she was buzzing with happiness

she felt like she was floating

he was in heaven

she was treasuring every moment

she surrendered to bliss

the weight lifted from my soul

he felt a solemn sense of happiness

joy bubbled up inside of her

his happiness overflowed

my heart almost broke with joy


I’m curious: if you read the whole list straight through, did it make you feel happier? It had that effect on me!

Either way, I hope you’re happy to have the list! If you don’t want to miss future writing posts, follow the blog, if you aren’t already; there’s a place to sign up below. Thanks for stopping by, and happy writing!