Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

Ingrid Fetell Lee. Little, Brown Spark, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-39926-5
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. Agent: Richard Pine, InkWell Management. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 09/04/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-6834-4
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5491-2013-8
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-316-39927-2
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