Make small changes to your surroundings and create extraordinary happiness in your life with groundbreaking research from designer and TED star Ingrid Fetell Lee.
Next Big Idea Club selection—chosen by Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Dan Pink, and Adam Grant as one of the "two most groundbreaking new nonfiction reads of the season!"
"This book has the power to change everything! Writing with depth, wit, and insight, Ingrid Fetell Lee shares all you need to know in order to create external environments that give rise to inner joy." —Susan Cain, author of Quiet and founder of Quiet Revolution
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?
We are often made to feel that the physical world has little or no impact on our inner joy. Increasingly, experts urge us to find balance and calm by looking inward—through mindfulness or meditation—and muting the outside world. But what if the natural vibrancy of our surroundings is actually our most renewable and easily accessible source of joy?
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—and, most importantly, she reveals how we can harness the power of our surroundings to live fuller, healthier, and truly joyful lives.
Designer Lee explores how to craft a more joyful life with this wise, empowering guide to drawing pleasure from natural wonders, brightly colored building facades, and other tangible aspects of one's environment. Backing up her insights with research from psychology and neuroscience, Lee identifies 10 "aesthetics of joy": energy, abundance, freedom, harmony, play, surprise, transcendence, magic, celebration, and renewal. She relates energy to "vibrant color and light," finding an example in the renewal of the Albanian city of Tirana, at one time plagued by crime and decay; four years after the mayor began painting buildings in bright hues, citizens had reclaimed their city. For the surprise aesthetic, characterized by "contrast and whimsy," Lee draws an example from her own life, remembering shaking with nerves before a boardroom presentation when she noticed that a buttoned-down, gray-suited executive was wearing rainbow-colored socks. He caught her gaze and smiled, a "small, unexpected burst of joy." She finds the transcendence aesthetic at play in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, where 500 hot-air balloons are launched each year. This book's extended passages of analysis might be daunting for some, but Lee's vignettes are engaging and a reminder that "every human being is born with the capacity for joy." Illus.