This week I began listening to Ingrid Fetell Lee’s Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. In it, she introduces ten aesthetics of joy. Yesterday I listened to her describe the first aesthetic, energy, which we get from vibrant color and light. Intrigued, I recalled my own post about joy back in December. And I decided I’d use Joyful as my guide on my hunt for joy.
Aesthetic 1: Color and Light
In the first section on color, Lee admits that as a former chromophobe, she once preferred whites or neutrals to bold colors. But when she moved into a living space with bright yellow walls, she kept them as they were. She became sold on the power of color to liven our moods.
I’ve intuitively added colorful stickers and inks to my journaling repertoire in recent years. Our gym pops with bold, energetic yellow, blue, and red. Could adding color to my wardrobe, my food, our garden bring more joy? I thought about my preference for outer layers that blend in with the environment rather than stick out.
Then I remembered the bright teal coat I received for Christmas. I smile every time I put it on. And the soft maroon Turtle Fur neck cover I wear on frosty mornings is as comforting as it is colorful. She may be onto something. The next time I shop for clothes, I promise to find one cheerful, bright item instead of another black, blue, dark green, or muted top. Just thinking about the possibilities gives me energy.
Hunt for Joy 2: Abundance
In her section about abundance, which I listened to this morning, she describes how excited a “kid in the candy store” is as he “forages” for his next sugar high. I feel that way when I find a bush laden with ripe berries, a little free library or bookstore stocked with favorites, or a garden bursting with colorful blossoms and chirping birds.
Her discussion of over-abundance fascinated me. Overflowing landfills, an obesity epidemic, and hoarding are examples of how abundance can become maladaptive. I look forward to seeing if and how she addresses these in future chapters.
This morning while walking my dog, I experienced several moments of joy that encapsulated energy, abundance, and the third aesthetic, freedom. While Ajax sniffed with renewed frenzy on a street we don’t often visit, I enjoyed the sights and sounds. Steller’s jays flew overhead. A dozen robins foraged for worms on an empty school playground. A trio of varied thrushes called to each other. Black-capped chickadees sang to attract a mate. And the sun poked through the clouds, sending happy beams down to cheer me. This is joy, I thought to myself.
While I haven’t listened to her section on freedom yet, I look forward to hearing what she says about open space, wildness, and nature. Every time I visit the mountains or a forest, I experience this joy aesthetic. And when I return with next week’s blog, I hope to share even more about my adventures in the hunt for joy.