Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness – Ingrid Fetell Lee

Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create 

Extraordinary Happiness – Ingrid Fetell Lee 

"Bright color operates like a stimulant, a shot of caffeine for the eyes. It stirs us out of complacency." 

Have you ever wondered why we stop to watch the orange glow that arrives before sunset, or why we flock to see cherry blossoms bloom in spring? Is there a reason that people, regardless of gender, age, culture, or ethnicity, are mesmerized by baby animals and can't help but smile when they see a burst of confetti or a cluster of colorful balloons?

In Joyful, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee explores how the seemingly mundane spaces and objects we interact with every day have surprising and powerful effects on our mood. Drawing on insights from neuroscience and psychology, she explains why one setting makes us feel anxious or competitive while another fosters acceptance and delight. Most importantly, she reveals how we can harness the power of our surroundings to live fuller, healthier, and truly joyful lives. 

One of my favorite stories in the book is about Tirana, Albania, during the fall of 2000. At that time, it was a run-down and crime ridden city until Edi Rama, the city's mayor, encouraged some painters to paint a nondescript building bright orange. It started with one building, and it began to spread throughout the city with many brightly colored facades. This bold project helped encourage the city's population to take better care of their neighborhoods and better care of their own lives. For his efforts in helping to regenerate the city, Rama received the 2004 World Mayor award. It just goes to show that even a little color can be a powerful thing. It is also a reminder that your environment can have an impact on you. 

Some of my favorite takeaways: 

"Playful design increases people's feelings of joy and makes them more innovative. There is more joy in quirkiness than in convention, and design is there to remind us of that. Experiences of awe are part of the joy of life, and architecture can foster awe in us. Celebrations spread joyfulness, and well-designed spaces lead to more celebration."

Check out the book HERE!


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