What did you feel the last time you saw a rainbow appear or a baby take their first wobbly steps? How is it that these little moments of joy can have such a marvelous and uplifting impact on our feelings? More importantly, how can we increase their frequency and sustain their impact on us?
When was the last time you experienced a moment of joy? One of those experiences that leave you feeling so uplifted you were practically bouncing on your toes. That moment points to a wonderful feature of our shared humanity. And the ways in which joy may be our brain’s most delightful survival mechanism!
Let’s start with some basics. What is the difference between happiness and joy? Here’s a very useful way to think of the two.
Our happiness is something we feel over time and generally relies on external circumstances: other people, the ongoing status of things like our surroundings, thoughts, and events. Whereas joy is a momentary burst of wonder and cultivated internally. We are going to experience more moments of pure joy when we are most open, content enough to truly appreciate things (large and small) that inspire awe.
How can the world around us inspire more moments of joy?
This was the question designer Ingrid Fetell Lee started to ponder after graduating from design school. Over and over she would feel joy at the sight of particular elements of the human-constructed environment or hear about other people’s experiences of joy and wonder. So, she began collecting stories of joy. What brought people joy? Where were they? What color was it? What shape was it? On and on her collecting went.
As she embarked on this journey to connect the dots and find out what brings us joy, she was astonished by joy’s universality. In her quest to understand joy, she not only found some fascinating answers, but also a framework for finding connection with others through the lens of joy.
Here’s her beautiful talk from the TED stage.
If you want to learn more about Ingrid Fetell Lee and learn how to bring more joy into your life, check out her fabulous blog The Aesthetics of Joy. There she provides a marvelous perspective on the world we walk around in every day and the potential it can have to spark moments of joy. Really though, do go check it out, she has post after post that will leave you feeling joyful.
It’s the perfect addition to your internet diet!
Maybe at the heart of this issue is the fact that we can, very purposefully, take charge of how much joy we experience. If we live out lives walking through the world looking for joy we will certainly find it more often!
Better yet, we can influence the world around us by paying attention to what is getting our attention. Turns out, there is some great science on the importance of sharing joy with others. Noticing how we might bring a little joy to others every day will be a multiplier for our own. The more we recognize what brings us joy, the more we can work to fold those elements in more regularly!
“The sharply divided politically polarized world we live in sometimes has the effect of making our differences feel so vast as to be insurmountable. And yet underneath of it all, there is a part of each of us that finds joy in the same things.”
— Ingrid Fetell Lee
Moments of joy can unite us. They serve as a space for connection and a way to open up conversations. Joy isn’t childish, or frivolous, it’s a part of who we are.
Recalibrating our brains to stop seeking out the things that make us angry, resentful, or frustrated and turning our efforts towards joy can be hard, but it’s not impossible. The Aesthetics of Joy website has an entire page devoted to resources that can help you get started.
Importantly, being joyful doesn’t mean we turn our backs to the serious issues the world faces. Rather, it gives us a boost to deal with the bigger issues with a less fatalistic view of the world.
So, go ahead, find joy! Share more joy with others! Perhaps even make a moment of joy possible for a total stranger! Joy is worth celebrating because it is a part of who we are. We have the potential to make the world more joyful, why not try it?
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
What brings you joy?
We want to know about a moment that brought you joy. Where were you? Did you share the moment with somebody else? Tell us about it! Share it with us on on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #ItsStillAnAmazingWorld!