Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness
BOOK: Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee (Amazon)
SUMMARY: A contagiously joyful read that will help you find more things to smile about.
I don’t know if y’all have noticed this, but this winter has been ROUGH. It’s rained approximately every day, Mercury was in retrograde for what seems like 3 months and crises have abounded over here at Book Babes. So far, 2019 has felt like the longest Monday of all time.
It was in this state of low-grade malaise that I picked up Ingrid Fetell Lee’s Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. Based on the title alone, I was fairly optimistic that it would change my life - the promise of creating “extraordinary happiness” shone down on me like a beacon through the late winter gloom.
Joyful is all about the things in life that are proven to create joy, and why - it’s equal parts academic exploration and Pinterest-y how-to. Fetell Lee, a branding and design professional, found herself drawn to the theory of joy and began investigating: are there things that are scientifically more likely, to quote my personal hero Marie Kondo, to spark joy? And if there are, how can we be more intentional about finding them?
Fetell Lee comes to the conclusion that there are a few elements that are practically universal, and she outlines 10 “aesthetics of joy,” including energy (vibrant color and light), abundance (lushness and variety), freedom (nature and open space), surprise (contrast and whimsy) and celebration (synchrony and sparkle).
Don’t you feel happier just reading that list? And it’s pretty intuitive, when you think about it. It explains why we love champagne, and why 🎉is the best emoji (don’t @ me), why we’re so drawn to plants and fresh flowers, and why bright colors make us happy.
After identifying the aesthetics of joy, Fetell Lee embarks on a truly delightful journey to some of the “most joyful places in the world” to explore these phenomena and discuss how we can better use them to create joyful lives.
This book makes it clear that it’s okay - even necessary - to pursue things solely because they make you happy. And I feel like we all need a little more of that in our lives lately. But if productivity is more your thing, it also delves into some joy-adjacent benefits: improved mental health, better creativity and job performance, and more fulfilling relationships.
As for my winter malaise? I found that reading Joyful has made me more attuned to the small, happy things I encounter every day. I even started a “joy list” on my phone to jot things down when notice them. The joy of Joyful is contagious - I’ve been noticeably happier since reading it, and I’ll take that.