Self Help

Joyful - Ingrid Fetell Lee

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 50 min read

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  • The passage discusses ten different “aesthetics of joy” identified by the author - qualities like color, light, nature, symmetry, surprise, etc. that evoke joy.

  • It explores the relationship between these aesthetic elements and human emotions and why specific aesthetics like vibrancy, abundance, and freedom stimulate joy.

  • The author researched and visited places worldwide that exemplify these joyful aesthetics, from treehouses to colorful cities to natural wonders.

  • Insights from psychology and neuroscience help explain why these aesthetics have the power to unlock joy within us on an unconscious level.

  • The book is meant as both a guide to spotting joy in one’s surroundings, and a palette to design more joy into one’s world through small changes to spaces and objects.

  • A story is then told about how the mayor of Albania’s capital transformed the grim city into a lively one simply by painting buildings in bright, vibrant colors - an early example of how aesthetics can radically change attitudes and behaviors from the outside.

The story describes how the city of Tirana in Albania was revitalized miraculously without significant public investment or projects. Somehow, the city seemed to come back to life simply through the power of joy. The writer began researching joy, defining it as an intense, momentary, positive emotion marked by smiling, laughing, and wanting to jump up.

Bright, vivid color is strongly associated with feelings of joy. Many cultures use bright colors in festivals and celebrations. Studies have also shown that people associate bright colors like yellow and orange with happiness and joy. Our ancestors’ ability to see more colors helped them identify nourishing fruits and leaves, providing an evolutionary advantage. Being able to see color is not a luxury but vital to survival.

Color activates ancient circuits in our brain linking it with finding food and feelings of pleasure and reward. Bright artificial colors can still trigger those joyful feelings even without physical nourishment. Color is a form of visually apparent and psychologically stimulating energy.

Vibrant colors can transform environments and uplift communities in meaningful ways. Mayor Edi Rama of Tirana, Albania commissioned colorful murals throughout the city, revitalizing dilapidated spaces and sparking economic growth. Tax revenue increased six-fold as more businesses opened and citizens took pride in their city.

Similarly, Ruth Lande Shuman founded Publicolor to brighten dreary New York City schools through painting. Over 400 schools now sport lively hues, correlating with less graffiti, better attendance, and improved safety perceptions. Students report feeling happier in their colorful schools.

Research shows that colorful work environments boost alertness, joy, and productivity. Bright palettes may act as stimulants that stir us from complacency. They signal that spaces are alive and conductive to thriving. Although initially resisted, vivid colors prove transformative when authentically applied at a systemic scale. Overall, the essay explores how color signifies life and cultivates conditions supporting community well-being.

  • The architect’s Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat used bold colors at their Saguaro Hotel, helping make it one of the most Instagrammed hotels. They said people fear color out of not wanting to make a mistake with their choices.

  • The author used to have chromophobia and only used white and off-white in her home. Living in a yellow apartment changed her mind, and design school helped her learn to see and appreciate color truly.

  • Colors have properties like saturation (purity) and lightness; brighter, more saturated colors are seen as more energizing. Dark desaturated colors absorb light.

  • Artists like Matisse can inspire bold color combinations by showing colors coexist in paintings.

  • Ellen Bennett, founder of apron company Hedley & Bennett, loves using bright colors like those in her Mexican heritage. She sees color as making spaces feel welcoming and alive.

  • There is a cultural bias in Western society viewing joy and color as childish versus neutral colors seen as sophisticated. This limits color usage out of fear of seeming foolish. Inspiring figures like Bennett marry color and business successfully.

  • Bennett moved to Mexico City for culinary school and paid for it with various jobs, including calling out lottery numbers on TV. She later moved back to the US determined to keep the vibrant aspects of her Mexican life.

  • She got a job as a line cook but hated the uniform aprons, which made the workers look and feel bad. When her boss was ordering new aprons, she asked for the order to start her own apron company, Hedley & Bennett.

  • Her first apron was yellow linen and other colors followed. She focused on making the aprons functional, stylish, and colorful to boost worker pride and dignity.

  • Hedley & Bennett is now thriving, outfitting over 4,000 restaurants. Bennett aims to transform uniforms from cheap, ugly garments to ones that bring joy and pride to work, likening the aprons to a “little cape” like Superman.

  • The passage then discusses how color and light can bring joy physically through things like regulating circadian rhythm and mood and mentally by uplifting spirits. Sunny, light-filled spaces tend to be happier areas where people want to spend time.

The passage discusses how our modern environments lack natural elements like color and light essential to our well-being. It has given us the illusion of independence from our surroundings when we remain deeply connected to and affected by them.

Specifically, it talks about how uniform, fluorescent lighting in offices creates a dull atmosphere compared to the streaks of sunlight through windows, which create a more joyful environment. Studies show people prefer variable lighting that draws the eye to focal points rather than uniform lighting. This socializes spaces by naturally attracting people to congregate in the brightest areas.

The passage also discusses how color enlivens spaces through its interaction with light. Bright colors reflect and animate light, turning it into different hues that energize an area. Specifically, yellow is highlighted as an incredibly effective brightening agent due to its inherent warmth and brightness. Fluorescent colors are also called out for their ability to almost glow through reflecting visible light. Finally, the color and quality of lighting are essential for accurately depicting colors and making people and spaces appear energized rather than tired.

The passage describes a visit to an apartment complex designed by artists Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins as an experiment using architecture to extend the human lifespan. Their buildings featured brightly colored, irregularly shaped spaces intended to disrupt typical movements and perceptions.

When the author arrives at the complex, they are cheered by its colorful exterior despite the dreary weather. The general manager explains that Arakawa and Gins believed architecture could function like medicine, so they guided using the space.

The author’s apartment unit dramatically differs from a conventional layout. Areas are delineated more by color than forms. Surfaces are densely painted with different hues. Furnishings are minimalistic. Rooms include an oddly shaped bathroom and a hollow spherical room.

Rather than traditional design, Arakawa and Gins aimed to challenge occupants’ physical and mental patterns through multi-colored, irregular spaces. The passage explores their conceptual approach to treating architecture to extend human lifespans.

The floor of the reversible destiny apartment is described as uneven and bumpy, like the surface of a moving dune with small lumps. It is not a flat surface to walk on but requires constantly adjusting one’s balance.

The designer Arakawa believed modern buildings numb our senses with flat, uniform surfaces, leading our bodies and muscles to atrophy. His “reversible destiny” theory stated that stimulating living environments challenging the body can prevent aging and death.

The apartment contains instruction cards with tasks like navigating the apartment in total darkness or moving through it as different animals. This challenges the senses and body in playful ways. The goal is to recapture a childlike sense of intimacy and wonder with one’s surroundings through novel sensory experiences, as ease and comfort are not inherently suitable for body or mind. Stimulating diverse sensations through touch, sound, and movement is vital for healthy neural development and well-being.

  • Snoezelen therapy exposes dementia patients to stimulating sensory experiences like lights, colors, textures, and music. Studies show this can help reduce apathy and agitation and improve neurological activity. Some long-term care facilities have found that it reduces the need for antipsychotic drugs to control behavior.

  • Nursing homes often have drab, monotonous environments that deprive elderly residents of sensory stimulation. This can cause them to withdraw. Adding more color, lighting, and textures to spaces through decorative paint and wallpaper can help engage residents more.

  • The article discusses how a lack of sensory richness and variety in our built environments may contribute to emotional and physical issues. Modernist architecture, in particular, favors sparse, minimalist designs that are argued to feel inhospitable and leave people feeling uneasy or hungry for more sensations.

  • This emphasizes the importance of variety, complexity, and abundance in our surroundings to satisfy human nature’s craving for novelty, sensations, and engagement with our environments. More color, textures, sights, and sounds are argued to satiate physical and sense needs.

The passage discusses how decluttering and minimizing excess possessions, as Marie Kondo promoted, can lead to a feeling of abundance and simplicity. While Kondo advocates removing everything that does not “spark joy,” the author realized this makes spaces feel enriched by focusing on the things that bring joy.

The author then explores how small touches of color, pattern, variety, and repetition can significantly impact mood and atmosphere. Examples mentioned include polka dots, stripes, rainbows, sprinkles and confetti. Even functional spaces like offices and banks can benefit from these “joyful” elements.

The passage profiles several people who embrace this “abundance aesthetic,” like Iris Apfel, Paul Smith, and architect Emmanuelle Moureaux, who designed a vibrantly colored bank in Tokyo. While unexpected for a bank, the colors drew people in and created a relaxed environment.

In summary, the passage argues that minimizing clutter alone does not create beauty - one must thoughtfully add colorful, textured objects and details to surround oneself with an “abundance” that uplifts the senses and sparks joy. Small pops of variety and repetition can have an outsized positive effect on mood and experience.

  • Rainbows are used as a symbol of hope, acceptance, and unity by various movements and causes. The rainbow flag specifically symbolizes the gay pride movement. LGBTQ rallies and events often have a colorful, festival-like atmosphere due to rainbow symbolism.

  • While rainbows may seem trivial, the author tells how painting a rainbow design on her infant son’s coffin helped a grieving mother cope with her loss. Some cultures also use bright colors to decorate gravesites to celebrate the deceased’s lives rather than solely mourn them.

  • Rainbows can lift spirits and bring hope even in despairing or difficult situations. They remind people of life, joy, and opportunity for growth, filling empty or oppressed spaces with their optimistic symbolism.

The passage discusses the connection between aesthetics, values, and abundance throughout history. Modernists like Frank Lloyd Wright viewed abundant, decorated styles as inferior and impure. Choosing simple, unadorned goods has become associated with virtue today in a world of cheap excess. However, displays of abundance in nature often indicate health and fitness. Labor-intensive artworks demonstrate one possesses extra energy like a peacock’s tail shows it is thriving. The concept of “gaudy” stems from “to rejoice,” so abundance is an expression of human delight, not moral failings. We are here not just to live but also to experience joy and delightfully.

  • Historic urban parks like Central Park were designed to resemble the African savanna landscape, with open grasslands, scattered trees, and long sight lines. This landscape provides advantages for hunting/gathering and offers both a prospect (broad views) and refuge (accessible shelter).

  • Researchers believe humans have evolved to prefer these savanna characteristics on a subconscious level. Studies show a cross-cultural preference for trees resembling acacia and landscapes with deep sightlines and horizon views.

  • This “prospect-refuge” theory can also explain our attraction to built environments - we value windows with natural views, courtyards, balconies, and open floor plans that blur indoor-outdoor boundaries.

  • Exposure to nature, even small green spaces, has health benefits like stress reduction and improved concentration/attention. Removing unnecessary furniture can open up interior spaces and allow more freedom of movement.

  • While large parks provide room to run, even tiny patches of nature like backyards or pocket parks can trigger positive sensations and a sense of release, highlighting our innate attraction to other living things or “biophilia.” Details of the natural environment, like scents, sounds, and textures, can bring joy.

  • Summer Rayne Oakes turned her Williamsburg loft apartment into an urban jungle of over 600 plants. She has always been passionate about the environment and using plants to make her home feel comforting and stimulate her.

  • After her roommate moved out, she started adding plants to open up the space and make it feel more like a home. Her collection grew as she propagated plants and built DIY installations like a green wall and hanging planter shelves.

  • The dense covering of plants has created an oasis-like atmosphere that leaves Oakes feeling rooted, calm, and stress-free even in the middle of a busy city. She believes caring for the plants acts as a mindfulness practice.

  • Having so many living plants surrounding her has increased her sense of well-being and subtly fueled her sense of freedom and willingness to take career risks. She hopes hosting workshops and sharing her space will help normalize incorporating more greenery into urban homes.

The passage discusses how incorporating natural elements like plants, photos of nature, or natural sounds can bring the benefits of nature indoors. Even a few houseplants have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve focus, and make people behave more generously. Exposure to plants and the color green can increase creativity as well.

It then describes how wild nature may provide more freedom than tamer forms of nature like gardens. The wilderness frees us from the constraints of modern life, like work schedules and technology overuse. Spending time in wild places can access a more primal, carefree part of our inner nature.

The passage profiles naturalist Jean Craighead George, author of My Side of the Mountain. She had a profoundly wild lifestyle even as an adult, keeping various wild animals as pets and decorating her home with natural artifacts. Visiting her home was an adventurous experience. While her level of wildness may be hard to replicate, her life shows how thoroughly nature can permeate one is being.

The author visited Piet Oudolf, a renowned Dutch landscape designer, at his experimental garden in Hummelo, Netherlands. Oudolf is known for his work on the High Line in New York, creating landscapes dominated by grasses and perennials.

At Oudolf’s garden, the author was struck by its wild and flowing appearance, with undulating grasses and scattered flowers that blurred boundaries. After getting tired of the formal English garden style, Oudolf began experimenting with unusual plant varieties in the 1980s. He wanted to make gardens feel more loose and natural.

A critical insight for Oudolf was using grasses instead of shrubs to structure gardens, as grasses have soft edges that move with the breeze rather than rigid. Using grasses allowed Oudolf to ease formal design rules and create more dynamic landscapes. The author observed how immersed Oudolf was in plants, able to identify an aromatic grass called Sporobolus just from its scent. Oudolf’s garden provided a laboratory to pioneer a wilder aesthetic in designed landscapes.

  • Piet Oudolf believes in embracing spontaneous, natural growth patterns in gardening rather than trying to control everything. He allows plants to find their way and accepts that things will change over time.

  • Oudolf’s gardens appear wild but are highly designed. They cultivate a wild aesthetic that feels unfamiliar and brings people joy by reminding them of a wildness they have lost in nature due to habitat loss.

  • As wilderness gets less biodiverse, Oudolf and others are cultivating a new kind of environmentalism rooted in aesthetic appreciation rather than obligation. Their work inspires people to restore native habitats.

  • Order and repetition can bring unexpected joy, as seen in the perfectly synchronized Rockettes kick line and organized collections on the Things Organized Neatly blog. There is also order hidden in nature, from symmetry to growth patterns. Life involves more structure and order than initially meets the eye.

So, in summary, it discusses how embracing natural processes over control in gardening can cultivate joy and how order, repetition, and aesthetic appreciation of wildness can motivate environmental stewardship even if wilderness is declining in biodiversity.

The passage discusses the importance of harmony and order in our surroundings. While the order may seem dull, it creates a sense of vibrant harmony as disparate parts work together in balance. Small additions of harmony and order can have significant effects, as evidenced by a color specialist who added just two colored tiles to the shower room in prison, dramatically reducing self-harm.

Disorderly environments have been linked to adverse psychological effects, while harmony signals that someone cares. Studies show that that disorder increases rule-breaking behavior. Even experts who embrace wild styles believe some order is needed.

Our brains are wired to perceive similarity - grouping like objects together simplifies information processing. Collections and organized displays feel joyful because our eyes see relationships between items. Interior designers advise using consistent elements like color, size, or material to instill a sense of unity. Putting order in chaos through repetition, balance, and an underlying structure can enhance complex spaces.

  • The passage discusses how symmetry pleases the human eye and brain. We intuitively prefer symmetrical shapes and arrangements over asymmetrical ones.

  • Symmetry signals inner harmony, health, and order. Symmetrical faces and bodies are biologically attractive because they indicate good genes and health.

  • Culturally, symmetry represents spiritual balance and harmony. Many traditional artistic patterns and architectural styles, like temples, emphasize precise symmetries.

  • However, modern architecture and substantial suburban homes often need more symmetry, sacrificing balance for goals like scale and customizable options.

  • Interior designers can bring symmetry to asymmetrical spaces by carefully placing paired objects, mirrors, aligned art, centered furniture, and rugs. Even whimsical solutions like a giant lamp shaped like a horse can help balance an unbalanced room.

  • Our eyes are naturally drawn to vertical and central symmetry points in space, highlighting the psychological role of symmetry in perception.

Here are the critical points about symmetry that help us get our bearings from the passage:

  • We have an innate preference for patterns and symmetry, as they provide order and regularity that calms the brain. Repetitive, predictable patterns are comforting.

  • Music relies on symmetrical sound patterns, like repeating beats and rhythms. Certain musical intervals, like the perfect fourth and fifth sounds, are pleasant because the wave patterns harmonize harmoniously.

  • Many natural phenomena exhibit fractal patterns - self-similar patterns that repeat across scales. Things like trees, coastlines, and clouds have this expanding symmetry. Our brains find these types of complex natural patterns relaxing.

  • Symmetrical and patterned designs are found across cultures like weaving, architecture, art, etc. Creating and seeing patterns can bring joy even when using simple materials.

  • We tend towards “patternicity” - seeing patterns even where they may not exist. This was evolutionarily advantageous as it reduced the risk of missing critical environmental patterns.

So, in summary, the passage discusses how our innate attraction to symmetrical patterns and order provides cognitive and emotional comfort, influences artistic expression, and helps our ancestors survive - showing how symmetry “helps us get our bearings.”

  • Catherine McCandless is a feng shui practitioner who debunks many mystical promises around feng shui and focuses on translating its ancient concepts for modern life.

  • Feng shui originated in ancient China to help ensure safety and prosperity based on the flow of chi (energy) in homes and landscapes, influenced by wind and water.

  • The author tries feng shui in her home with practitioner Ann Bingley Gallops. Gallops emphasizes chi flow over mysticism.

  • Gallops identifies stuck chi in the cluttered entryway and asymmetric bedroom. They are making changes like clearing clutter and centering the bed to improve chi flow.

  • The author sees feng shui as smooth energy circulation in a space, enabled by order and arrangement. This allows for a focused flow of activities.

  • Practices like knolling, mise en place, and decluttering create visual and physical flow, opening “channels for the smooth flow of energy through our lives.” Making these changes in her home gave smooth, frictionless transitions.

The passage discusses the concept of harmony and order in one’s environment according to feng shui principles. It recounts the author’s experience of cooking with their partner in a calmer, more harmonious way after making some feng shui adjustments to their home, even though the adjustments were not in the kitchen area. This suggests that harmony in one part of space can positively affect other areas.

It then discusses the concept of “imperfect harmony” and provides examples like Ikat textiles and Islamic art incorporating intentional minor flaws. The primary example discussed is the quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, which do not follow strict geometric patterns but have subtle curves and improvisation that create a sense of motion and syncopation. Although starting from common quilt patterns, the Gee’s Bend quilters would improvise designs out of necessity using scrap materials. This improvisation became a source of joy and pride, allowing them to find beauty in humble materials. The passage examines how order and harmony can exist in imperfect or non-traditional forms through examples like these quilts.

  • Quilting provided a rare creative outlet for women mainly occupied with household chores, tending crops, and raising children. The quilters celebrated each other’s designs and shared techniques.

  • When asked how she pieces her quilts without strict patterns, Mary Ann Pettway demonstrated her feeling through fabric scraps and putting together pieces intuitively based on balance rather than following a blueprint. It involved trial and error.

  • The author realizes quilting involves finding harmony in imperfect compositions rather than discovering a hidden pattern. Looking out the window, the author saw nature’s irregular patches and lines finding their rhythm.

  • Play is one of our most excellent means of accessing joy and has deep roots in human evolution and development. It allows children and animals to practice social skills like cooperation through unstructured activities. Play promotes flexibility, creativity, and resilience and relieves stress by being fully immersed in the present moment.

  • For adults, play is essential to maintain balance and joy, but our society overvalues seriousness and performance. The advocate Stuart Brown argues that people need more play to access their inner playfulness and creativity, especially high-achieving students who are knowledge-focused but less joyful. We can bring more playfulness into everyday life and relationships.

  • Ellen envisions playing a city-wide game of tag to reconnect with the childlike instinct for play that often gets lost in adulthood.

  • Stuart Brown agrees that play is a primal, subcortical force deeply rooted in humans and other mammals.

  • Some companies try to foster creativity and playfulness by decorating innovation spaces like kindergarten classrooms with bright colors, soft flooring, beanbags, etc. However, this can backfire by making some adults feel overwhelmed or like they are “playing badly.”

  • Animal play behaviors involve play cues like tail wags or bows. The author wonders if inanimate objects also have cues that suggest play, like round shapes.

  • Round and spherical objects have been used as toys for thousands of years across many cultures. Their lack of sharp edges promotes discovery without danger for curious children.

  • Research shows people implicitly associate curves with safety/positivity and angles with danger/negativity due to evolution. Angles can inhibit joyful movement and flow in a home.

  • Round shapes create a lively, playful environment and change social dynamics for the better. The author incorporates more circles into their home to promote playfulness and joy.

  • Objects or toys with limited and clear affordances help users understand how to interact with them. For example, a door handle suggests pulling or pushing, while a flat plate indicates pushing.

  • Toys that are best for play often have broad and open-ended affordances that allow for varied and creative use in many different ways. Found objects like rocks and sticks are good examples. Snow also increases affordances by allowing the landscape to be shaped, scooped, slid on, etc.

  • Of all toys, balls have especially broad affordances due to their round shape, which reduces friction and makes them dynamic, unpredictable, and able to be used in many sports and games. Their curves mimic playful bodily movements.

  • Home circular layouts can foster playfulness by encouraging continuous movement rather than ending in cul-de-sacs. This increases social interaction at parties, too. Overall, curved and circular elements promote play and joy.

Here is a summary of the primary muscles involved in smiling:

  • Zygomaticus major muscle: This muscle extends from the cheekbone down to the corners of the mouth. The primary muscle pulls the corners of the mouth upwards and outwards in a smile.

  • Levator labii superioris muscle: This muscle elevates and pulls the upper lip upwards in a smile. It runs from the cheekbone down to the upper lip.

  • Levator anguli oris muscle: Also known as the canine muscle. It runs from the cheekbone to the angle of the mouth and works to pull the corners of the mouth upwards and backward in a smile.

  • Risorius muscle: A small superficial muscle in the cheek that runs horizontally and works to widen a smile by pulling the corners of the mouth sideways.

The key muscles that contract to produce a smile are the zygomaticus major, levator labii superioris, and levator anguli oris. The risorius helps widen the smile. Together, the actions of these facial muscles elevate and pull the corners of the mouth up and back in the familiar facial expression of a smile.

The author visits Le Palais Bulles, an unusual house in France constructed entirely of interconnecting spheres. Built-in the 1970s by eccentric Hungarian architect Antti Lovag, it was intended to break from traditional rectangular architecture and embrace circular forms that better align with human movements and senses of vision. Fashion designer Pierre Cardin later expanded the unfinished structure.

The author meets with Jean-Pascal Hesse, director of communications for Cardin, and tours the complex. Rooms of all shapes and sizes are connected by winding, curved hallways and staircases. Bedrooms are decorated individually by young artists. Central living spaces like the living room, dining area, and breakfast nook utilize circular and spherical designs.

The author needs help exploring the endless pathways between interior and exterior spaces. Round windows, portholes, and skylights offer sea and pool views framed by the organic curved architecture. The unorthodox spherical design allows the author to wander freely and discover surprises around each turn.

The passage describes visiting a unique house, Palais Bulles or Bubble Palace, designed by architect Antti Lovag. It has an unconventional structure comprising interconnected spherical rooms and volumes without sharp edges. The designer Pierre Cardin lived there, and their creative approaches to design embraced curving and rounded forms.

The house has a playful, sensual quality to its flowing interior spaces. It causes the visitor to feel embraced and brings a sense of well-being. Light behaves differently within the rounded architecture. The story discusses how Cardin and Lovag’s work exemplified a softer, playful sensuality compared to modern mainstream portrayals.

Despite feeling anxious, the narrator plunges into the pool on a whim, enjoying the joyous feeling the unique home inspires. In conclusion, the passage argues that built environments could benefit from embracing more organic, curving forms to better support human nature and experiences like play, creativity, and sensuality. Small touches of rounded design help shift perspectives.

  • Tiny unexpected moments of joy can help interrupt negative thought patterns and shift one’s perspective in stressful times. Something as simple as seeing colorful rainbow socks helped the author feel more confident in an important presentation.

  • Small surprises strengthen positive emotions by drawing attention outward to the world instead of inward worries. Spotting artfully drawn smiley faces or blue balloons on a drab day can improve one’s mood.

  • Psychologically, surprise quickly redirects attention and heightens emotions by stimulating brain regions involved in vigilance and arousal. While typically meant as a warning, pleasant surprises capitalize on this response to intensify joy.

  • Guerrilla knitting or “yarn bombing” public spaces with colorful knitted sleeves on parking meters is an example of designing more gentle surprises into everyday environments. These soft, fuzzy additions contrast the urban context and elicit smiles, sparking the brain’s sensitivity to differences.

In summary, unexpected moments of aesthetic delight or beauty can benefit emotional well-being by leveraging natural psychological responses to surprise and contrast to redirect attention outward positively.

The passage describes several small-scale art installations and interventions that aim to bring joy and unexpected beauty to urban spaces. It discusses “yarn bombers” who knit colorful patches onto public objects like parking meters. It also mentions artists who fill potholes with plants and flowers, install painted plywood signs in broken windows, and use LEGO pieces to patch crumbling buildings.

These initiatives represent street art shifting from vandalism to more constructive “joyful activism.” They use the aesthetic technique of contrast - introducing soft, colorful textures into complex public spaces - to surprise and delight viewers. Even small, unexpected beauty touches like this can draw attention to urban issues and start conversations about community improvement.

The passage explains how introducing surprise and contrast can enliven everyday experiences, like decorating a plain dinnerware set with bright pink plates. Small acts of “joyful repair,” like fixing a broken vase with neon tape, can turn accidents into opportunities for visual delight. Introducing the unexpected through ideas like accent nails breaks up routines and fosters social connections and smiles.

  • Mandy and Kevin Holesh lived in a Pittsburgh apartment for five months but became restless. They had enjoyed traveling in a pop-up camper after getting married.

  • They decided to buy an old camper and renovate it themselves to live in full-time. They wanted the ability to travel wherever they wanted.

  • Their camper had many windows, which gave them views of their surroundings and an element of surprise. Occasionally, they would spot unexpected wildlife.

  • Mandy worked to make the tiny 188 sq ft camper feel like a home without clutter. She added subtle decorative touches like polka dots stamped from potato cutouts on the wall and a pom pom garland over the bay window for decoration without blocking views.

  • Living in a camper that travels allows them to wake up in different natural settings each day, providing continually changing “views” through the windows like a dynamic wallpaper. They can park in wild areas rather than RV parks.

  • The many windows and ability to wake up in new places daily bring serendipity and surprise to their mobile home lifestyle.

  • The woman placed sticker versions of colorful Spanish tiles on their camper’s steps leading up to the bedroom. She wanted to add some decor but avoided heavy items due to weight restrictions.

  • The camper showed that a home can provide daily surprises and allow people to rediscover the joys of their own space. For the couple, their camper is not just a place to sleep but a portal to new experiences.

  • The summary emphasizes how the camper embraces an open-ended lifestyle rather than settling down and provides unexpected discoveries in a familiar environment daily. The camper reminded the author that a home should be a “treasure chest of living,” as the French architect Le Corbusier said.

3D printing has revolutionized prosthetic limbs by making them more accessible and customizable for children. In particular, colorful printed prosthetics that highlight their differences have helped disrupt harmful stereotypes by reframing disabilities positively. Some studies suggest that positive affect and surprises can help disrupt initial hypotheses and stereotypes by increasing openness to different perspectives. The emergence of these brightly printed prosthetics surprised people and changed perceptions by celebrating differences. For example, a child designed a glitter-shooting prosthetic arm, showing that disability can enable superhero-like abilities. By framing differences joyfully through these surprising prosthetics, children feel free to be themselves and may no longer get bullied, gaining newfound confidence and acceptance.

  • Researchers have found that upward movements and upward-sloping lines are associated with positive emotions like joy. In contrast, downward movements and downward-sloping lines are associated with negative emotions like sadness.

  • Cognitive linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson believe this stems from how our bodies physically express emotions - smiles curve upward, frowns downward. Well-being also has upward associations like “peak of health.”

  • The author argues that the deeper reason is our relationship with gravity. Upward movement allows breaking free of gravity’s constraints, so it feels joyous. The flight was historically seen as magical.

  • Structures like treehouses, towers, Ferris wheels, and skyscraper observation decks give us an elevated perspective and sense of lightness. Elevation can provide psychological relief from worries.

  • Treehouses, in particular, elicit joy despite humble structures. Interviewed treehouse builder, Pete Nelson speaks of his childhood dreams of elaborate treehouse compounds and expresses boundless enthusiasm for his creative projects elevating people among the trees.

Nelson had always dreamed of building treehouses. He started building them as a hobby while working regular construction jobs to support his family. After a workshop he held filled up, he realized treehouse building could be a full-time career. He found land to build Treehouse Point, a site dedicated to treehouses.

Treehouses are found in many cultures and environments as safe shelters. For children, they offer independence and a hideaway. Adults also use treehouses for relaxation, recreation, and reflection. Research shows that elevated, even just a few feet, can promote abstract thinking and resisting temptations.

Nelson builds elaborate treehouses for living, working, and meditating. He finds treehouses allow an escape from the competitive hustle of daily life. Even subtle elevations like balconies, lofts, and bay windows can provide a sense of perspective and transcendence. Floating objects in the sky, like clouds and birds, also offer a feeling of rising spirit. However, modern technologies pull our attention downward, reducing time spent gazing upward for joy and relaxation.

Gavin Pretor-Pinney is a British cloud expert who created a field guide to clouds and organized a Cloud Appreciation Society with over 43,000 members. He views cloud watching as a form of meditation that allows the mind to idle and daydream. Research shows that that daydreaming engages creative parts of the brain.

Pretor-Pinney believes idle activities like cloud gazing give legitimacy to doing nothing, which can make space for beneficial daydreaming. Clouds offer an egalitarian escape from daily pressures available anywhere. Their beauty inspired hope in grim prison cells by painting cell window bars pale colors against the sky.

Finding lightness and transcendence in our world is essential for well-being. Experiences like balloons, treehouses, and clouds elicit lighthearted joy and mental clarity. Some describe a numinous or sacred feeling of peace when perspective shifts. Research on the emotion of awe shows that experiences of vastness or grandeur make people feel small yet euphorically connected to others. Glimpses of transcendence through nature or art are meaningful yet declining in modern life.

  • Traditional religion provided moments of transcendence and connection to the sacred through rituals and structures. However, in modern Western society, these have declined. This has led to a “spiritual gap” or feeling of emptiness.

  • Traditional spiritual teachings try to remedy this through inward practices like prayer and meditation. However, the research on awe suggests we can access the sacred by looking outward at our surroundings. Experiencing awe in vast natural settings or works of art can produce feelings of transcendence.

  • Awe often involves looking upward. Grand structures like cathedrals use height, arched ceilings, and focal points above eye level to induce feelings of elevation and connection to something greater. Even the physical gestures used to express awe involve reaching upward.

  • While traditionally associated with religious contexts, experiences of transcendence through light and elevation can be found in everyday public spaces like museums, train stations, and modern civic buildings using height, natural light, and vertical visual lines.

  • Artists have also used light, transparency, and the illusion of infinite depth in installations to create moving experiences of transcendence through light alone by blocking out shadows, seams, and distraction. This brings the dynamics of light from the sky down to Earth.

  • Light, pale-colored walls and ceilings can make a room feel taller by being more reflective and mimicking the light quality at elevation. Gradient washes and fading colors also evoke how the sky changes hue towards the horizon.

  • The town of Chefchaouen in Morocco painted nearly all walls, doors, and alleyways in dreamy blue shades inspired by the color of the sky. This was either a practical decision to repel flies or a spiritual one meant to inspire holiness.

  • Astronauts report feeling transcendence and connectedness when viewing Earth from space, gaining perspective on our planet’s resources and fragility. Space tourism and colonizing Mars may allow more people to have this experience.

  • Early magical thinking and belief in supernatural beings are natural for children, but they are expected to be abandoned as adults. However, many adults still find meaning and joy in magical thinking through coincidences, spirituality, and the belief that life has purpose.

  • Magic is considered irrational but can increase well-being by providing meaning, optimism, and pleasure. Icelandic surveys found that many adults still believe in the possible existence of elves, showing that magic is only partially abandoned by modern adults seeking more meaning.

  • The passage describes a visit to the Icelandic Elf School to learn about elves and hidden people that many Icelanders believe in. The school headmaster believes in them and has interviewed over 800 people who claim to have seen them.

  • A man who claims to have seen elves since childhood describes his encounters matter-of-factly, saying he has seen them playing but not making noise. They age slowly over 50 years.

Only 5% of Icelanders claim to have seen elves, but their belief subtly influences construction projects and cultures like road diversions and elf habitats.

  • The landscape of Iceland, with geothermal activity and strange phenomena like the northern lights, lend themselves to magical explanations, according to researchers. Believing in invisible inhabitants that influence nature is a way for Icelanders to relate to their volatile landscape.

  • Even without sighting elves, the author finds magic in every day surprising moments in Iceland’s stark, beautiful natural environment. The unfamiliar terrain may have historically prompted early humans to imagine spiritual entities to understand mysterious occurrences.

  • The passage describes two unique magical experiences - encountering a glowing swarm of fireflies in a foggy backyard and attending a secretive magic show called the Magic Patio in San Francisco.

  • At the Magic Patio, held in a residential backyard, illusionist Andrew Evans performs magic tricks using modern and vintage techniques. The intimate setting and costume-changing atmosphere create a sense of mystery.

  • Evans has been performing magic professionally since age 12. He studied magic books and built replicas of historic magician’s devices while attending Brown University, which houses an extensive magic collection.

  • The described show, “Illusions of Grandeur,” features modern versions of tricks from history’s great magicians. Evans opens with an engaging card trick to immerse the small audience in the magical experience.

  • Both examples showcase how everyday environments and experiences can take on an enchanting quality when open to subtle energies, phenomena, and performances that reveal the mysteries around us.

  • The passage describes an experience attending a magic show by magician Derek Evans at his backyard venue called the Magic Patio.

  • Evans performs tricks like cutting rope with his fingers, making two unequal pieces equal in length, and making a rose petal multiply. His tricks feel upbeat and joyful rather than creepy.

  • The most extraordinary trick is levitating a small table with a tablecloth - the audience watches in quiet amazement as the table spins and floats.

  • After the show, the passage discusses Evans’ approach to magic. He sees only nine basic magic tricks that somehow challenge natural laws.

  • Evans believes embedding magic in an ordinary context like his backyard sets the stage for wonder. By remaining tethered to reality, the implausible feels more magical.

  • Evans also works as a product designer, aiming to bring elements of wonder to everyday experiences through innovative designs that push boundaries similar to magic tricks.

So, in summary, the passage describes experiencing a playful and joyful magic show, then explores the magician’s perspective on creating wonder by challenging perceptions within an ordinary context.

The author discusses how technological, once dazzling innovations can become mundane over time as they become ubiquitous. Maintaining an awareness of both high-tech innovations and, more essential, everyday things helps us appreciate the magic in technology as it reshapes our world at an unprecedented pace.

Olafur Eliasson creates immersive art installations that make abstract forces like fog, light, and water tangible in surprising contexts. His works stir feelings of wonder using simple materials like pipes and pumps. This inspires smaller-scale ways to find magic daily, like using mirrors, illusions, and iridescent materials to transform ordinary spaces. Optical illusions, in particular, have a long history in art and are finding new expression in street art. Maintaining a sense of curiosity about high-tech and mundane things helps prevent blasé attitudes and finds magic all around us.

The passage discusses how magic and wonders have been underappreciated in driving innovation and scientific discovery throughout history. While magic may seem fanciful, it has often ignited curiosity that prompted people to study phenomena more closely and advance human understanding. Mystical experiences or aims initially inspired figures like Robert Boyle and Nikola Tesla before making pivotal scientific contributions.

The passage argues that allowing wonder and imagination fuels creativity. It quotes Eden Phillpotts saying, “The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” Rather than being a mere distraction, magic can catalyze discovery by expanding minds and pulling people to explore the unknown. Celebration is also discussed as a uniquely social form of joy that bonds communities and enhances well-being by heightening positive emotions when shared with others. However, the passage notes that as social lives move online, there are fewer opportunities for in-person celebration experiences.

Here are the key points about how shared celebrations can promote community:

  • Physically gathering together in joyful experiences helps smooth out life’s difficulties by building connections between people. Shared celebrations cultivate social bonds.

  • Things like proximity, lighting, shared attire/themes, and music can help cultivate more shared joy by making people feel part of a united group experience rather than just individuals. Being close together physically and feeling a shared identity promotes empathy and bonding.

  • Communal celebrations harness the natural tendency of joy and emotions to spread between people. Seeing others enjoying themselves makes our joy feel infectious. Music, dancing, and group activities promote this infectiousness.

  • Simple design choices like seating layout, lighting, decorations, and music can transform an ordinary space into one that feels lively, celebratory, and conducive to social mingling and shared joy. These aesthetics of celebration draw people together.

  • Historically, Communities have used shared festivities, rituals, and public gatherings to build social cohesion and positive relations between members. Modern daily life could benefit from incorporating more of these principles of celebration.

  • Scientists found that when people engage in synchronized music or movement like singing, dancing, or rocking chairs, their brain activity and physiological responses align. This phenomenon is called synchrony.

  • Synchrony leads people to be more cooperative, helpful, and attuned to group needs over individual needs. It creates a euphoric feeling of collective unity and bonding within communities.

  • Music and dance have long been essential in building social cooperation and large groups. Evidence suggests prehistoric humans held ceremonies featuring singing and dancing over 20,000 years ago.

  • Depictions of dance became more common in Neolithic art during the transition to settled agrarian societies, suggesting dance helped strengthen social bonds and unity in these new larger groups.

  • To this day, participating in music, dance, and rituals together at celebrations, protests, and other events continues to foster physiological and psychological connections between people on a visceral level. Even silly things like inflatable tube men dancing elicit feelings of joy through their exaggerated movements of togetherness.

Carnival artist Peter Minshall is known for his elaborate and innovative costumes worn by dancers in Trinidad’s Carnival celebrations. Some of his notable creations included a hummingbird outfit made of shimmering feathers and a giant 15-foot skeleton puppet controlled by a dancer underneath. Minshall’s designs amplify the gestures of human joy by expanding the body to several times its size through oversized elements, wings, feathers, and moving parts. They capture the euphoria where the body seems to “burst open” in celebration. His works have become synonymous with Trinidadian Carnival culture. Minshall later applied his experience with large-scale artistic spectacles to design the opening ceremony for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, creating 60-foot-tall inflatable dancing sculptures. While some criticize the ubiquity of copycat inflatable figures in commercial settings today, they still evoke the exuberant spirit of Carnival by repeating expansive celebratory gestures.

  • According to designer Max Rockwell, “sparkle” is becoming less common in our digital world. Screens lack the reflective surfaces that create sparkle through subtle reflections of light.

  • Sparkle gives experiences an uplifting quality, making them feel more celebratory. Fireworks demonstrate how bursts of light create sparkle.

  • Decor elements like chandeliers with starbursts of crystals, disco balls, metallic accents, sequins, glitter, and other reflective materials can recreate a sense of sparkle and celebration. Even wearing glittery shoes can lift one’s mood.

  • Balloon artist Jihan Zencirli found that her giant balloons with colorful tassels brought people joy by drawing attention as a festive focal point. She transformed this into a business creating balloon installations that decorate buildings and public spaces, spreading celebration for everyone.

  • Oversize elements signal something important is being celebrated by standing out from the everyday. They function as a nucleus, drawing people together in shared joy. Without such a focal point, celebrations lack a center of gravity.

  • The passage discusses a Turkish artist named Zencirli, who live streams her celebrations to share joy with others. This reminds the author that historically, celebrations were public affairs that brought whole communities together.

  • The central idea is that joy grows exponentially the more it is shared. Celebration broadcasts joy widely so more people can join in. The more generous we are with our joy, the more we have for ourselves.

  • The author then shifts to discussing her experience of feeling stuck in her life and career in 2012. Her feet began tingling, which she initially ignored.

  • Work became an escape, but she experienced a sense of renewal and a fresh start during a solo trip to the Irish countryside. The natural environment helped restore her emotional resources.

  • Moments of renewal can come from overcoming challenges, new experiences like travel, and being reminded of perpetual change and possibility through seasons like springtime. These moments boost optimism and resilience during difficult periods.

  • The passage explores how finding renewal and bouncing back from difficulties is critical to long-term happiness rather than seeking an even-keeled experience without sadness.

The passage describes experiencing cherry blossom season in Japan. It arrives in Shibuya amid the crowds and lights, spotting cherry trees lit up. The following day, cherry blossoms are bursting everywhere along the Meguro River - in the trees, reflected in the water, and even in food and drinks.

Cherry blossom season is a time of national festivity, and hanami picnics under the trees date back centuries. People throw themselves into appreciating the brief beauty, taking time off work. The cyclical nature of the seasons is a reminder that joy will come again after ebbing, unlike a linear view of time, which makes downturns seem like failures.

During a devastating earthquake and tsunami, survivors found hope in cherry trees blooming as usual among the wreckage. Anticipating future pleasures like seasonal changes can enhance joy as the mind imagines exciting possibilities. Rather than just four seasons, Japanese culture recognizes subtle transitional micro seasons, inviting more cyclical anticipation into life. Finding connections to natural cycles is presented as a way to bring more repetition and reliability to experiences of joy.

The essay discusses how cycles of nature, such as seasons and plant growth, can foster an awareness and appreciation of the fleeting nature of beauty and joy. Seasonal celebrations and gardening connect us to the rhythms of the natural world.

While Western cultures may try to resist or prolong ephemeral pleasures, Japanese culture embraces mono no aware, a bittersweet awareness of impermanence. The cherry blossoms are seen as intensely beautiful yet tragically brief.

Flowers, in particular, hold universal appeal despite offering no practical benefits. Their colorful arrays and dynamic shapes representing flourishing and potential have fascinated cultures throughout history. For our ancestors, flowers signaled future food sources.

Today, people spend billions on cut flowers annually, though some see it as extravagant. However, even a single bloom can provide intense joy and fulfillment that outweigh its fleeting nature. Embracing seasonal and transient beauty is seen as a way to heighten life’s pleasures.

The passage discusses how floral patterns and blossoming shapes can bring a sense of renewal and joy into interior spaces. While static representations of flowers do not change with the seasons, they evoke the dynamism of nature and suggest transformation.

It then describes designer Eva Zeisel and what made her designs so appealing. Though she worked in the modernist era when organic forms were unfashionable, Zeisel incorporated voluptuous, curving shapes into her pieces. Her assistant, Olivia Barry, noticed Zeisel’s curves always matched templates called French curves. When asked about this, Zeisel replied that her designs used “obvious curves” - the most satisfying and pleasurable curves to look at, potentially drawing from nature or mathematics. In contrast to her modernist peers who favored strict angles, Zeisel felt curves were indispensable for creating designs with emotional appeal and sensitivity. Her use of curving forms brought an organic quality that was unconventional for the time but ultimately made her works feel alive and joyful to touch.

  • Hungarian designer Maria Zeisel was famous for using organic, flowing S-curves in her ceramic and metalwork designs, which drew inspiration from natural shapes, like plant growth. She viewed the S-curve as the most expressive line that suggested dynamism.

  • S-curves and other organic forms like spirals signify growth, transformation, and vitality when incorporated into the design. They imply that objects are alive and constantly changing rather than static. Zeisel’s works pulled the qualities of the natural world into everyday objects.

  • Edges and endings are significant - tapered or curled forms that conclude shapes suggest completeness, while cut-off designs seem unfinished. Things like grass blades or seashells end beautifully in spirals or curves.

  • Spirals specifically have deep symbolic meanings related to natural growth patterns, from plants to seashells. Architects have used spirals to convey a sense of perpetual upsurging energy in designs like Gaudi’s Casa Batllo and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum.

  • Renewal aesthetics remind us that nothing is beyond reclamation and that nature will assert itself even in abandoned spaces, bringing life back through seeds and vegetation as with New York’s High Line park. Joy and the drive for life are fundamentally linked.

The passage discusses how joy has become less prominent in modern life and society. Work and school focus more on productivity and achievement rather than enjoyment. Physical environments also prioritize status, ideology, and branding over cultivating joy.

As a result, joy has been squeezed out of the places where people spend most of their time. It now exists more on the edges - in nature, playgrounds, and leisure activities. However, restoring joy should be as important as environmental renewal efforts.

Just as environmental renewal has the momentum to restore nature, humanistic renewal could bring joy back to the center of everyday life and the world. Small interventions like art, decorations, or flowers could spread joy’s “infectious quality” and positively change communities. Fixing the world may seem daunting, but renewing it through increased joy is more achievable. Tiny seeds of joy in individuals could collectively reborn the world.

The passage calls for restoring joy as a priority in life, work, and design through humanistic renewal, similar to ongoing efforts of environmental renewal. Small, grassroots efforts spreading joy could impact communities through positive momentum and effects.

Here is a summary of the key points about time aesthetics from the passage:

  • It provides guidelines and exercises for turning aesthetic inspiration into concrete projects that create joy.

  • It outlines six central aesthetics - Energy, Abundance, Freedom, Harmony, Play, and Transcendence - that can be sources of inspiration.

  • There is a worksheet to help identify which aesthetics match how you want a project (space, object, event, etc.) to feel.

  • The worksheet then guides going from inspiration to a tangible plan, with steps for critical elements, combinations of elements, and an implementation plan.

  • The Joyful Palette section details signature elements, décor ideas, activities, and experiences that exemplify each aesthetic.

  • The aim is to use aesthetic principles to transform spaces, objects, events, etc. into more joyful versions through concrete applications and multi-sensory experiences.

In summary, it is a framework that uses aesthetics as a starting point for thoughtfully designing projects, environments, and experiences to cultivate greater joy.

  • Declutter the entryway and organize collections.

  • Choose circular, spherical, and rounded furnishings, rugs, and lighting to encourage play. Keep balls, balloons, and hula hoops handy.

  • Decorate with cute objects, pom-poms, googly eyes for whimsy.

  • Windows that let in ample sunlight. It has varied light fixtures.

  • Open floor plans, picture windows, glass doors opening outside for freedom.

  • Symmetry in floor plans and design elements for harmony.

  • Arches, domes, porthole windows, and circuits in floor plans for play.

  • Colorful clothing, layered accessories, striped/polka dot accents for abundance and freedom.

  • Tropical locales, art museums, flea markets, candy stores for energy and abundance.

  • Nature spaces like beaches and parks for freedom and harmony.

  • Amusement parks and curvy buildings for play.

  • Activities like color runs, street art, hiking, dance, ball sports, and play with kids/pets.

  • Avoid dull colors, minimalism, artificial materials, sharp angles, clutter.

The passage expresses deep gratitude to many people who helped bring the book project together and supported it throughout its development. This includes the publisher and various staff members who worked on the book, the author’s advisor who helped in the early stages, friends who provided feedback on drafts, researchers who assisted, and the people featured in the book who generously shared their time and stories.

It also thanks IDEO for its enthusiastic institutional support of the project. Particular individuals are named. Further, family, especially parents, are given thanks for their love, encouragement, and influence. Lastly, gratitude is expressed to readers of the author’s blog for their ongoing interest in bringing joy into the world.

Here is a summary of the key points from the provided sources:

  • Studies have found that office workers who sit near windows are more satisfied and productive than those who do not. Daylight exposure is also linked to better performance and outcomes for students and hospital patients.

  • Light therapy is an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder and depression, according to a meta-analysis. Bright light and melatonin therapy can also improve cognitive and noncognitive function in elderly patients with dementia.

  • People generally prefer full-spectrum daylight to artificial light. The brightest pigments in nature are associated with health and fertility. Fluorescent hues are more attention-grabbing.

  • In studies, people consistently choose savanna-like landscapes over others. Biodiverse parks are associated with more excellent psychological benefits. Access to nature is linked to better health, stress recovery, attention, and sleep outcomes.

  • Stimulation of the senses through activities like gardening, petting animals/plants, amplified music, massage, and sensory deprivation tanks can trigger the brain’s reward system and reduce mental fatigue. Snoezelen multi-sensory therapy benefits dementia patients.

  • Displays of abundance, ornamentation, sensuality, and excess were celebrated historically as promoting pleasure and countering puritanism/drabness. Not just scarcity but “too much” can induce delight.

  • Freedom of choice and restraint avoidance are widely preferred in art and environments. Interior chaos and wilderness have appeal. Nature access benefits mental health and reduces crime/aggression. Greenery near buildings enhances well-being.

Here is a summary of the key points about nature imagery in prisons from the sources provided:

  • A 2016 paper by Hasbach examined the impact of the Nature Imagery in Prisons Project on inmates in solitary confinement and prison staff. Exposure to natural images reduced the frequency of hostile outbursts among inmates.

  • Studies have shown improved worker productivity, reduced stress, and increased generosity when exposed to interior plants and nature photographs, even in windowless environments. The sounds of nature, like birdsong, can also lessen pain.

  • Spending time in and being exposed to forests and woodland areas has been found to boost the activity of natural killer cells, which are an essential part of the immune system with anti-cancer properties. Some studies have examined infusing hotel rooms with phytoncides from trees for similar immune benefits.

  • Exposure to nature through imagery may help alleviate the adverse psychological effects of feeling lost or disoriented in confined, isolated environments like prison confinement. Spending time in wilder, natural places can produce greater feelings of control and orientation.

  • The benefits emerge from exposure to as little as 15 hours of nature interfaces like images or sounds. This suggests that a brief or limited engagement with nature can still provide stress-reducing effects.

Here are the summaries of the sources:

  • Uta and M. Bertamini (2015) studied implicit associations and approach/avoidance responses to angular and curved shapes using experiments. They found that people had more positive implicit associations and approached curved shapes more than angular ones.

  • M. Bar and M. Neta (2007) found that visual elements of subjective preference modulate activity in the right amygdala. Pleasurable visual stimuli activated the right amygdala more than unpleasurable ones.

  • C. McCandless (2011) discussed how many plants like rounded leaves are favored by the principles of feng shui for their calming effects.

  • An episode of Saturday Night Live (“Indoor Gardening Tips from a Man Who is Very Scared of Plants,” 2008) included a skit where a character commented jokingly that “Plants do not have eyes.”

  • M. L. Kringelbach (2009) and others discussed research on the “baby schema,” a set of infant facial features and body characteristics that invoke human caregiving responses. These include large eyes, round face, etc.

  • D. Barrett (2010) discussed how certain infant features in babies elicit nurturing responses due to their similarity to infant features exaggerated in rhesus monkey faces.

  • Several sources discussed research findings that infant features are detected rapidly and unconsciously elicit nurturing feelings due to their evolutionary importance for ensuring infant survival.

  • Sherman and Haidt (2011) found that cuteness increases social engagement and prosocial behaviors like caregiving. Keltner and Haidt (2003) discussed the emotion of awe having the capacity to induce more fluid thought.

The summaries provided an overview of the critical points of angular vs. curved shapes and the role of specific design elements and infant features in emotional responses, as discussed in the sources. Let me know if you need any part summarized in more detail.

Here is a summary of the key points from the provided readings:

  • Default network and executive system coupling support creative idea production. Mind wandering draws on the default network.

  • A study in China found an association between weight and using more emotional words in the language. Heavier people used more negative words.

  • Inflatable structures like domes emerged as protest symbols in 1968 due to their lightweight, portable nature. Geodesic dome designs had a lasting impact on architecture.

  • The emotion of awe involves perceiving something vast that expands one’s mind. It leads to a “small self” perspective and increased prosocial behaviors.

  • Light-colored ceilings can influence perceptions of room height. Artist Doug Wheeler created “infinity rooms” to inspire awe.

  • The tradition of painting buildings blue is seen in the Moroccan city of Chefchaouen.

  • The famous “Earthrise” photo from the moon in 1968 is considered one of the most influential images ever. It inspired environmentalism.

  • Some studies suggest lunar and financial cycles may be linked to sleep patterns and market behaviors, respectively, indicating that belief in magic can be self-fulfilling.

  • Many Icelanders believe in hidden people or elves living in rock formations and boulders in the landscape.

  • In medieval times, magic was seen as fueled by demons and used for purposes like weather control or divination. Today, it is considered more broadly as affecting perceptions.

  • Celebration and synchronized group activities like music and dance increase prosocial connections by activating shared identity and emotional contagion effects. They have deep roots in human evolutionary history.

Here is a summary of the key points from the passages:

  • The Bobo people of West Africa create spinning funeral masks for burial ceremonies.

  • The earliest firecrackers date back to 7th century China, where they were made from bamboo and used in religious celebrations.

  • Sculptor Charles Owen Minshall is known for his inflatable sculptures displayed at events like the Olympics and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

  • Flowers are only used on special occasions in some cultures, according to the book “Brilliant.”

  • The chandeliers at the Metropolitan Opera in New York had to be taken down and repaired in 2008 due to breakage of the lighting elements.

  • Ceramic artist Clayton Fisher believes glitter celebrates life’s simple pleasures and moments of joy.

  • Ancient cultures had calendars tied to the changing seasons and renewal of the natural world.

  • Garden designs and horticulture have a long history in ancient Egypt, Rome, the Netherlands, and Japan.

  • Designer Eva Zeisel was influenced by forms in nature and aimed to design objects that appeared to grow and change shape organically.

  • Spirals and curves have significance in art, architecture, and nature due to their prevalence in growth patterns studied by scientists like Darwin.


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About Matheus Puppe