Read : Joyful - The Art of Happiness

Reflecting upon the environments and objects we interact with on a daily basis, taking on exploration into the surprising effect micro-movements can have on our emotions. Drawing upon research in neuroscience and psychological development, Lee formed an aesthetic outline to joyful emblems, referring to colour, emotives, shapes and other relational engagements. Joy is the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation. This is an intrinsic distracting which subconsciously influences and exchanges emotions between objects, moments and further impact. The book combines both theoretical research into cognitive developments and practical research in examples of these subtle progressive social practice, which disrupts cognitive thinking and wider visual cues.  


Lee, Ingrid Fetell. 2018. Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. Random House.


“Natural vibrancy of our surroundings … most renewable and easily accessible source of joy” - everyday object interactions & mundane spaces = tangible things creating intangible feelings

What do you want to give people with your work? - Feelings i.e. joy

Turning the material world to joy - internal spaces “search” for this - world is full of positivity - inclusive notions of human joy

Aesthetics - properties that define the way an object looks and feels

Small changes that fill the world with little moments of joy - rather than decorative

Environments that make people feel - sociability and tolerance - unconscious breeding of joy and best humanity and emotions

Pg 11 : “alive with opportunities for inspiration, wonder and joy. … empowers you to see more of these opportunities in the world around you and seize them. Joy’s power is that small moments can spark big changes.”

Energy : vibrant colour, enlivening and light


Pg 15 Joy - intense momentary experience of positive emotion - exuberant, high energy & stimulating happiness

Whereas contentment - curled up on sofa & bliss - lost in meditation

Pg 16 : colour - brighten, darken = intrinsic linguistic connection between colour and feeling i.e. colour psychology relating to survival such as with colour of plants and nutrition, visual signals of danger and energy of gathering aka. bright colour = nourishment pg 19

Pg 19 : colour is energy made visible & richness of surroundings / vibrancy and thriving “growth and minerals”

Pg 23 : "colour provides energy we need to learn, be productive & grow” : joyful, interested, confident and friendly - spaces ie. Publicolor

Pg 26 : range of colour and light within scenes - chromatics ie. saturation and lightness, hue

Pg 29 : Western society focused on sophistication (intellectualisation possibly? Focused on ideas of maturity and rationality) - my own joyful colours relate to English countryside summers - yellows of wildflowers, meadows & sea green blues

Pg 31 : Hedley & Bennett - colourful aprons to imprint joy on workplaces / function

Pg 34 : Light and joy - dim and sunlight i.e. function of immune systems & serotonin

Pg 36 : conveniency and efficiency = abstraction, lack of natural bodily connection / intuition to environment / independent of aka. lacking essential colour and light - bright, warm paints bring light into spaces

Pg 41 : “noticing colour and light has changed the world around ... little gifts … small inclusions of warmth and life ... sun.”

Abundance : lushness, stimulating, multiplicity and variety


Pg 53 : “benefit from exposure to a diverse array of sensations. In studies, adults exhibit significant activation in the emotional regions of the brain when stimulated by touch, taste or, smell” - reduced stress, improved mood and enhanced attentiveness - without we go insane : does psychosis come from a need of entertainment/distraction?

Pg 55 - space numbs senses and emotions - abundance wakes up, brings to life

pG 57 : “places where disorder and complexity led to serendipitous encounters with sights, scents and other people”

Pg 58 - is food craving sense craving? - haven of abundance - “burnout often has as much boredom in it as exhaustion” - soak in sensations and souvenirs - palette of textures

Pg 62 - bursts of joy, confetti, glitter, sprinkles, fairy lights, buttons - filling small spaces with surprises i.e. lunchboxes - repetitive motives of exuberant fullness - hope

Pg 69 - “the goal was joy, not perfection”

Pg 72 - Diane Ackerman “we are here to live not just the length of our lives, but the width of them as well. We are here to see rainbows and paint them, to be tickled and enthralled, to eat a second cupcake if we choose … too much of a good thing can be wonderful.


Freedom : nature, wildness, loose and open space


Pg 74 : Joy doesn’t liked to be oppressed - freewheeling, expansive

Pg 78 : we seek and internal Eden - unconsciously seek and recreate of landscape

Prospect and refuge theory - wide environments balance freedom and safety

Natural views improve studen’t’s attention & decrease stress - eyes rest and refocus with micro-restorative effect - freshening - providing negative space for air and freedom of movement

Pg 81 : landscapes are the things captured that never show up in a photograph - scent, colour, senses - room to run free, less confined

Biophilia - the innate attraction humans have towards other living things

Pg 83 - time in nature decreases blood flow to subgenus pre-frontal cortex (where we ruminate) - temporary freedom and full and free experience of the world

Pg 87 : attuning to the world award - shine shining, light - plants and growth

Pg 88 : “a subtle sense of security, the plants have fuelled her liberation - stability and safety allow risks outside of yourself - natural sound relieves anxiety

Pg 91 : “culture of fear” intangible modern societal constraints needs rewiring with more primal, carefree elements - hard barriers and boundaries online/social & economical - layers of responsibility

Wildness comes from varying textures

Pg 99 : “looseness allows liberation” - joy not obligation of re-wilding & environmentalism


Harmony : balance, grounding, rhythmic, symmetrical and flow


Pg 105 : stemmed from order in the natural world - symmetry emerging from physical principles - joy of order vs chaos and disorder ie broken window theory

Pg 108 : balance, rhythm and repetition allows for harmony in wildness

Gestalt psychology - grouping similar objects into larger compositions to simplify and make sense of information into a visual system - limbic system’s rewards

Common elements of size, colour, shape or material

Pg 110 : complexity ordered within harmony - unify a group - circles = wholeness

Pg 112 : round tables = social harmony, inclusive shapes - letting go of hierarchy

Pg 116 : central objects balance, heightening a sense of symmetry and bearings

Pg 118 : musical riffs and freedom relies on a structure of repetition, sequence and beats - rhythmic rocking, etc;

Sonic and visual patterns offer joy with repetition of elements allowing harmony - relax our brain with beats and melody

Pg 120 : pattern “fractals” repeated emblems within nature = wakeful relaxation within frontal cortex

Pg 122 : flow, systems that optimise ease and safety - smooth workflow and visual absorption - calm and unhurried

Pg 128 - heightened spacial awareness - invisible choreography - chaos leads to other elements spiralling out

Not a fixation on the idea of perfection but subsequent experience of harmony


Play : circles, spheres, spontaneous and bubbly forms


Pg 134 : all primates play - leads to laughter and joy evoking pleasurable, nostalgic memories that’s only purchase is to create joy

Pg 135 : disvalued in scientific community - not frivolous, unnecessary emotional gain but critical to human life

Pg 136 : play influences social and emotional development - practice give & take, empathy, fairness, flexible thing, problem solving, resilience and adaption to change

“When we play, our awareness of time diminishes, and our self-consciousness fades”

- flow state, allowing us to let go of worries and absorption in momental joy

Pg 137 : goal-orientated society - blocks personal playfulness (work, rest, play)

passive relaxation rather than playful unrestriction

Pg 138 : nostalgic - inspire playfulness and reconnect play impulsions - liberating but vulnerable, breaking routines and exposes us to unpredictable, sometimes seeming condescending and leads to resistance

Unspoken cues = physical playful language that our non-verbal

Pg 141 : balls and round objects allow hands-on engagement without risk - promoting discovery - approachable and unconscious association of curved forms with safety and positivity - doesn’t antagonise the amygdala & gives a search for novelty

Pg 147 : time spent playing facilitates bonding - strengthens caregiver’s attachment & baby’s sensorial and verbal stimulation - development and playfulness


Surprise : contrast, quirky, unexpected and whimsy


Pg 166: redirect our attention - awareness of immediate surroundings

Pg 167 : prompting approach, engagement, curiosity, exploration and interaction whilst intensifying our emotions "magnifying glass for joy, imbuing tiny pleasures with heightened significance"

Pg 170 : slight change in aesthetics ; harmony and surprise create a tension and contrasts that highlights the advantages of both

Pg 171 : generous, constructive spirit of gifting creations

Pg 172 : Surprise is an illuminator spotlight - attention is the beginning of devotion

Pg 174 : A prompt or shift in often impersonal transactions into joyful moments of conversation and connection - innate human curiosity with hide and seek

Pg 185 : sense of lightness - welcome contradiction, tension that pulls the mind between strange and familiar

Pg 186 : "wide ideas in a mantle of familiarity" - gentle quirkiness and welcome trigger of puncturing world views and disrupt harmful stereotypes

Pg 188 : wonder and delight which declines with age : hedonic adaption which destabilises us and introduce different perspectives


Transcendence : elevation, airy and lightness


Pg 192 : Language of lightness : unconscious and automatic associations

Upward movements correlate joy & vertical axis for positivity - rise over gravity

Pg 199 : Emotions disconnected when removed from ground i.e. treehouses from shift in perspective

Gaining elevation allows big pictures and less details of a situation

Pg 209 : "awe" of feeling small or insignificant - euphoric resonance of oneness with others

Pg 213 : light of vertical gradients and conductivity


Magic : invisible forces, ethereal, enchantment, wondrous and illusionary


Pg 228 : Counterpart of energy : visible manifestations of energy and unseen movement

Wind, sun, spectrum of light with unique effects


Celebration : synchrony, sparkle, communal and bursting shapes


Pg 246 : celebrations mark joy and communal experience ; pause daily activities to toast, dance, feast and frolic - set aside individual preferences to immerse within collective joy

Pg 247 : state of belonging and attunement, socially united in effervescent joy

"Emotional resonance brings us together, strengthening a community and enhancing bonds within it"

Pg 248 : positive events shared together in collective presence increases joy

Pg 252 : group affiliation : comfortable with personal space, greater trust and tribal

Pg 254 : song & dance, blissful, selfless absorption within a community without language : "collective effervescence" - Emile Durkheim - powerful, communicative expression of the spiritual and physical energy of human beings


Renewal : blossoming, expansion, dynamic, sensuous, nurturing, alive and curves


Pg 295 : renewal of joy : flowers poking through crack i.e. alone in place un-belonging

Pg 296 : resiliency of nature and environmental reclaimation

Pg 297 : drive towards joy is synonymous with drive toward life : ancestral link between coloraturas and ripeness - conditions of flourishment to animate, stimulate and sustain

"Without joy, we may be surviving but we are not thriving. If we rarely laugh or play, if we never have glimpses of magic of flashes of transcendence or bursts of celebration, then no matter how well fed and comfortable we are, we are not truly alive"

Work focused on gains in productivity : joy of craft and creation

Education focused on achievement : exploration or adventure

Pg 298 : revitalisation of the man-made world, a humanistic renewal to parallel the naturalistic one already underway : "bring our world back to life"

"The beauty of renewal is that is has its own momentum, propelled by the relentless ambition of life to endure and propagate. Life multiples, and so does joy ... Even the smallest efforts - ... can be the beginning of an upward spiral that changes a community, a neighbourhood, a life."

"The lesson of renewal is that from small seeds big things crown"


Pg 299 : John O'Donohue : "Each of us is an artist, everyone is involved, whether they like it or not, in the construction of their world."

"With paint and markers, yarn and flowers, they are constructing a more joyful world."


Personal approach, with story changing - humanistic way of seeing the world and opening up projects within it. Life-changing pointers to view the world through wonder, senses and magic in a way that resounds both the author and reader without direct intellectual prestige.


Further research : Developing visuals for Hospital Rooms, experiencing Nudge and Open Jam - developed into my formative assessment by giving space for play with Joy

Lottie Matthews © 2020
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