I’m a few days into my birthday month; ever since I first heard of it, I thought it was a wonderful idea. We all need to celebrate ourselves for a whole month, especially when our birthday falls on a work day – it’s the epitome of self-care. Since it’s been a rough few months for me, I made the resolution to focus on creating more joy for my birthday month.
What is joy?
Joy is defined as “an intense, momentary experience of positive emotion.”
We don’t necessarily think joy can be created on a daily basis. We reserve joy for the big events in our lives: birthdays, graduations, weddings. But in Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness, Ingrid Fetell Lee shows us that we can create joy in our lives with little design changes to our surroundings.
How do we create more joy?
The author identifies ten different categories that shape joy. These are the five that bring me the most joy.
Have you noticed that colors and lighting affect our moods? Not only that, but bright bold colors give us confidence. Think about red lips and jewel-toned dresses. I definitely walk with my head held higher when I’m wearing things that make me happy. This is why I can’t stick to a color palette; I love all kinds of colors and would suffocate with only a four-color wardrobe. Speaking of suffocating…
I’m mildly claustrophobic, so I value freedom tremendously. The freedom of movement, the flexibility of schedule, the freedom of thought. Wide open spaces replicate a sense of freedom, and the widest open space of all is nature. Going to the park or on a hike always makes me happy. I’m not sure if it’s the fresh air or all the plants, but I love being out in nature. I really enjoyed the camping trip I went on recently, that’s definitely something I want to do more often.
I love unexpected details. A colored lining in a dark coat. A little drawing on page corners of a book. A rainbow cake covered in plain white frosting. I especially love paraprosdokians, long before I knew there was a word for it. All these things bring a smile to my face and make my day a little bit better.
I also enjoy surprising other people. In fact, I might get more joy from surprising others than being surprised myself. I like to randomly bake stuff for people, or accessorize with something random that people don’t expect to see (like painting the undersides of my fingernails).
I was raised a S.T.E.M. child, but I LOVE MAGIC. The scientist in me needs to know how it was done, but more often than not, I’m happy enough to suspend reality and enjoy the magic. I’ve been hoarding a pass to the Magic Castle for so many years, the magician who gave it to me might no longer be alive. There was a show on Netflix that I watched recently, I enjoyed it a lot until I saw some comments on YouTube that deflated my joy just a bit. The skepticism brought me back to reality.
I wasn’t raised religious, so I think magic gives me a visible sense of the world being bigger than what my logical brain can comprehend.
And of course, parties. I love social gatherings, even though I’m pretty introverted and tire easily. The book mentions that celebration, unlike the other categories, is a social form of joy. We can’t celebrate by ourselves. Throwing yourself a party is just having an elaborate dinner. It’s the people that bring energy to a celebration. That said, I’ve only ever celebrated my birthday once. My parents didn’t celebrate our birthdays, so I never learned to celebrate myself. But we’re changing that!
The author also covers abundance, harmony, play, transcendence, and renewal. Read about all 10 in the book!
I really liked that the author brought in real-life examples of people creating joy through their work. There are some examples of architecture that I would love to go see for myself. And it definitely gets me thinking about what changes I can make in my life, and what I can do for friends and family to make their lives more joyful.
This book made me happy! Joy is very much something we consider a luxury now, something we don’t always believe we deserve. I’ve always been a fan of the details, of noticing the little things in life, and I love that this book shows us joy is in the little things! (It’s in the big things as well.) The book actually evolves naturally from little things like color to grand celebrations to renewal, the cycle of life. Not only does it help us better understand ourselves, it also shows how we can bring joy into our lives through little things. And isn’t the cover itself joyful?
Were you aware of all the things that bring you joy? What little things do you do when you need a pick-me-up?