For this article I actually started out researching more on ‘future of work’, the ‘new normal’ and so on; but it is rather gloomy, hazy and everyone seems to be predicting future world from what they are experiencing within their ambit of exposure. There’s already a plenty chatter all around us with the pandemic and its uncertain repercussions. I’ll save that discussion for some other day, when I am able to make more sense of it myself. 🙂
Instead I decided to write something lighter and positive this time, and in the process I found this delightful short TED talk by Designer, and author – Ingrid Fetell Lee. She studies joy and explains how we can find more of it in the world around us. More specifically, she has spent a decade researching “How do tangible things create intangible joy?” As an industrial designer, and now as a director at legendary design house IDEO, she strives to design tangible objects that could create joy. She has also written a book titled – ‘Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness’ based on her study.
When Ingrid Fetell Lee talks about joy, she distinguishes it from happiness clearly. This is how she elaborates it –
Broadly speaking, when psychologists use the word joy, what they mean is an intense, momentary experience of positive emotion — one that makes us smile and laugh and feel like we want to jump up and down. And this is actually a technical thing. That feeling of wanting to jump up and down is one of the ways that scientists measure joy. It’s different than happiness, which measures how good we feel over time. Joy is about feeling good in the moment, right now. And this was interesting to me because as a culture, we are obsessed with the pursuit of happiness, and yet in the process, we kind of overlook joy.
Being a designer, she talks about shapes, colors and how they affect our emotions. She discusses why our workplaces, schools, and many other urban landscapes are devoid of joy. She also makes us ponder how we tend to look at joyous activity by an adult as a puerile trait – imagine how would we react if a middle-aged man says a large scoop of ice-cream gives him immense joy?
There are lot of “eureka“moments as she quotes studies about connection of colors and shapes with joy or primal instincts in our amygdala, design changes in the school building after the mass shooting of 2012 and so on. Do listen to her insightful talk –
I don’t want to add much from other sources here, no other dots that I’d like to connect with this talk. I have already written few times about happiness – Happiness as a choice, Does money bring happiness? and even Beyond Happiness. This time, I’d request you to just watch this simple video, reflect what are those joyous activities that you enjoy, and how you could add more of them in your life.
While listening to her talk, I had these words from old song Stoney by Lobo (One of my favourite singers from olden days, do listen) playing in my head –
Stoney, happy all the time Stoney, life is summertime The joy you find in living everyday Stoney, how I love your simple ways
With her study on this subject, Ingrid Fetell Lee unfolds how the joy we find in living everyday actually makes our life happier.
Each moment of joy is small, but over time, they add up to more than the sum of their parts. And so maybe instead of chasing after happiness, what we should be doing is embracing joy and finding ways to put ourselves in the path of it more often.
In case you’re interested, this is her book Joyful, with a free preview –
By the way, how would you find ways to put yourself in the path of joy more often?
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