The Aesthetic of Joy

by | Oct 28, 2021 | Book Reviews | 1 comment

Healing practitioners confront the constraint that most clients want only to stop feeling bad. In hypnotherapy, that begins with trance experiences that build inner peace. That opens doors to self-awareness and release of tension. Unfortunately, few continue until inner peace is a firmly established in daily life.

Not that I would end there. In truth, I see that as only a stepping-stone to joy.

Joy is an elusive concept. In “Joyful,” Ingrid Fetell Lee was motivated to its study after a project assessment by an impassive review board that concluded with “This makes [us] joyful.” Her interest was stoked by the admission that they could not elaborate further.

Modern design seeks to eliminate distractions. That has the side-effect of minimizing cost and increasing durability. Conversely, the simplicity of modern design minimizes the expectation of fulfilment. Until occupied or used, the products of modern design are sterile.

This characteristic focused Fetell Lee’s analysis of the aesthetics of joyful design. Drawing upon her inner compass, she collected examples of designs that elicited joy, and sought unifying principles. That analysis was facilitated in dialog with the designers, many of whom found success through their rejection of the aesthetic of modern design.

Fetell Lee’s synthesis of her explorations is offered in “Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness.” She offers ten principles of design, each of them evocative of the organic experience of joy. Each principle is allotted a chapter. Each chapter begins with a personal vignette, a “peak encounter” with the principle. That vignette leads to an examination of the somatic, psychological, and social utility of the principle. Field trips follow, often sharpened with observations by the designer. Fetell Lee concludes with practical suggestions for integrating the principle in daily life.

The principles are:

  • Energy
  • Abundance
  • Freedom
  • Harmony
  • Play
  • Surprise
  • Transcendence
  • Magic
  • Celebration
  • Renewal

The categories are not hard-edged, a fact recognized by Fetell Lee when an example is reused in a later chapter. The are not even physical characteristics of design, such as “smoothness, symmetry.” Rather, as mentioned above, they characterize our felt experience, and thus apply naturally to society and ecology. Fetell Lee’s illustrations are indicative: some principles anchor us in tactile experience, others draw us into interaction. There is a spectrum running from “me” into “we.”

Fortunately, Fetell Lee does not remain in this fuzzy realm of emotion. She recommends modification for our private and public spaces that can liberate joy.

As a specialist in cognitive decline, I am dismayed by the sterility of many memory care environments. When working with clients struggling with low self-esteem, I encourage them to take refuge in nature, but that can be difficult to arrange. I look forward to sharing Fetell Lee’s joyful insights. As she relates, it only takes a few well-chosen objects to establish a shrine to joy.

Thereby serving my own therapeutic ambitions and satisfaction.

Those interested in learning more should visit Fetell Lee’s site.

1 Comment

  1. Rose

    Hypnosis worked for me affected by life experiences; I believed I needed new positive thoughts to think..rather than the ones I was raised on. I did the hypnosis work and my life changed as I believed and trusted my thoughts to be Good and God sent. Try Brian,,he will help you more than you know Hynosis Works. 😄


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