Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness” as Want to Read:
Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  5,234 ratings  ·  754 reviews
Have you ever wondered why we stop to watch the orange glow that arrives before sunset or why we flock to see cherry blossoms bloom in spring? Is there a reason that people--regardless of gender, age, culture, or ethnicity--are mesmerized by baby animals and can't help but smile when they see a burst of confetti or a cluster of colorful balloons?

We are often made to feel
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Little, Brown Spark
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Joyful, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Joyful

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,234 ratings  ·  754 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness
Miranda Reads
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it

We should manage joy in the exact opposite way that we manage money. We should spend it all, at every chance we get.
Ever look around a doctor's office, a school hallway, the dentist lobby, and think, something is missing here?

Spoiler alert: It's the joy.

Ingrid Fetell Lee takes a close look at how the simple pleasures in life (such as bringing joy to a room) ultimately transform lives.
We rediscover their joy again and again, and we fall a bit more in love each time.
But, that be
Will Byrnes
I'm standing next to my table, everything neatly lined up, and I'm just hoping that my professors can see how much effort I've put into making my designs practical and ergonomic and sustainable. And I'm starting to get really nervous, because for a long time, no one says anything. It's just completely silent. And then one of the professors starts to speak, and he says, "Your work gives me a feeling of joy."…I asked the professors, "How do things make us feel joy? How do tangible things make us
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 positive stars to Joyful! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

From time-to-time, I need to hit the reset button on life and have a little refresh. I find self-reflective books focused on positivity tend to do the trick, and I like to share these types of reads occasionally in case they uplift someone else, too. I was invited to read Joyful by Little, Brown, and it publishes on September 4, 2018. I’m excited to share some of my thoughts with you!

My Thoughts:

There is no dearth of books out there teaching us that positi
Heidi The Reader
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Ingrid Fetell Lee shares how to bring more joy into your life through the appreciation of ordinary things. Using tools like color selection, feng shui, gardening and room design, you can utilize your environment to foster an inner sense of joy and well being.

I think anything that increases joy and appreciation in my life is a good thing. I found it interesting almost every other book I've read on this subject focuses on the inner aspects of joy, the ones that won't fade. But Lee convinced me the

We all feel joy, but do we know why, exactly, certain things bring joy? Ingrid Fetell Lee makes this intangible feeling tangible in Joyful. Joy is everywhere, and in many things we take for granted. It’s in physical view and arrangement, shape and color, places and experiences. Identifying these is fascinating enough, but then Lee presents the science (often rooted in primal, evolutionary preferences), to round out and deepen what on the surface can seem like a pseudo-psychological, lightweight
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I expected this book to be about finding joy in ordinary things as the extended title suggests. There was VERY little about ordinary things. Instead this book was a litany of the author’s trips to far flung places to see unique, once in a lifetime things. I’m pretty sure anyone can find joy in the northern lights or the cherry blossoms in Japan, but those are NOT ordinary things.

The chapter on play was my favorite, but probably because she quotes Dr. Stuart Brown’s book called Play so much. I l
Katherine Center
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
GET THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!! Loved, loved, loved it. So much wisdom here about how to bring joy into your life. This is one of those non-fiction reads that I will re-read over and over to try to absorb its wisdom. SO grateful I found this book. RUN to grab a copy!
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I like the sketches. And what the author says makes sense. But imo it's not a great book. It's meant to be a sort of counterpoint to minimalism, but m. is an easy straw man. It's meant to be a serious book, but Lee is neither a psychologist nor an anthropologist, and some of what she claims she actually has misunderstood, misreported, or supplanted. She doesn't think like a scientist, either, mixing up cause & effect, or pointing to one cause among many as if the others don't matter.

Otoh, I do t
Connie G
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Designer Ingrid Fetell Lee shows how our physical surroundings can be modified to make us feel more joyful. She has found ten aesthetics of joy: Energy, Abundance, Freedom, Harmony, Play, Surprise, Transcendence, Magic, Celebration, and Renewal. She often uses psychological studies to back up her observations. For example, Energy includes vibrant color and light. Studies have shown that school children learned more when their drab tan schoolrooms were painted bright, cheerful colors.

Play include
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
‘Snowdrops and daffodils, butterflies and bees…’
It seems that Dana was onto something when she sang these words in the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest.
In ‘Joyful’ Ingrid Fetell Lee looks at how certain things – like rainbows, polka dots and round objects – can cross demographic groups and bring joy. It’s clear that Lee has spent many hours researching this subject. She discusses many people – designers, architects etc who have incorporated joy into their work – there are no photos, so it’s best to
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was a big giant waste of time. I know flowers and curves bring joy, tell me something I don’t know. This felt so pretentious and dumb after reading Sue Klebold’s haunting memoir. Don’t waste your time or money. Just go buy flowers
Elinor Howard
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was definitely not my cup of tea. Every chapter seemed to lull on as she discusses her far off travels and her privileged life to find joy. I found myself constantly having to look up all these place to get a good idea of what they look like because her description was far from clear. Honestly, couldn’t make it to the end because it was so dry and boring. I thought it would be more about finding joy and less about traveling the world to see colorful buildings.... what a drag.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, books-i-own
Nov 29, 2018 added it
I’m not going to rate this book, I abandoned it after three tries around chapter two, right after the 5-7 pages describing the energies of colour and its effect on people.

I’m simply not the audience for this book and can’t appreciate the obvious time and energy the author invested in this subject. It has a ton of research in it and I can see designers finding a lot of value in this book.

For my purposes, the summary table at the end was enough to give me what I came for.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
By the end, I found this book a bit dry and slow, and it wasn't as well-researched or well-written as other psychology/sociology books I've read recently, but overall, secular worldview and evolutionary theory notwithstanding, still an interesting study on the effect of physical environment on our emotions, organized around ten "aesthetics of joy" (energy, abundance, freedom, harmony, play, surprise, transcendence, magic, celebration, renewal).

I may not agree with the author's definition of joy
Tara O'sullivan
In this warmly written book, the author explores the idea of joy - what it means to us as humans, and how and why it can be brought into our lives. The good news is that the answer seems to be that joy can be found in small, simple things. She explores the effects of different colours, shapes and experiences on our minds, and how joy can be found in the new and the familiar, in comfort and adventure.

It's an uplifting little book that can help you to take a look around and take pleasure in the s
Sophia Buckley
Aug 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
I can save you some time. Bright colors, balloons, bubbles, & rainbows bring joy.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
When did you last feel joy?

First off, I have never thought of picking up a book like this before. If it wasn't for @Tabi this book would have not been touched. So! Thank you for the recommendation + buddy read!! xD

I had some doubts, some concerns with reading this. So before, diving into the book, I sat down and watched Ingrid Fetell Lee's Ted talks. The way she spoke, her ideas and philosophy...the feeling of self-conscience was replaced with curiosity and hopefulness. I hoped that way of expre
Natalie Wisz
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This is an information-packed book about the science of joy. Referencing research-based studies and information, the author posits that there are physical qualities or triggers in our environment that seem to universally elicit feelings of joy. She identifies ten aesthetics of joy
which include energy, abundance, freedom, harmony, play, surprise, transcendence, magic, celebration, and renewal. She then breaks each of these categories down into tangible, physical aspects that seem to universally e
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
I received this book as an advanced reader's copy and we are always on the search for books that express positive energy. Everyone needs positive energy most times and we are a library that lives to provide these kind of resources that help people live their best life possible. We receive a donation once a year and the donor specifically requests us to purchase books such as this because of the power they can do for the community and I have seen some fantastic results in our collection because o ...more
Traci at The Stacks
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I love joy. It’s my favorite word. This book took an interesting look at finding joy and physically adding it to your life, weather it be more color or sparkle or curves. The author gives us 10 aesthetics of joy (energy, play, magic, etc.) and walks us through each. It also talked about the history and evolution of joy. Why certain. Things make us joyful. It’s a smart book. It went on a little long in sections.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to enjoy this much more than I did. I think the structure had a lot to do with it. I would have loved to see a lot more pictures and colours. All the ideas were really cool but I found myself wandering off a lot whenever I picked up this book and I only managed small chunks at a time.

Nevertheless, there are many stories that resonated me and made me want to incorporate more joy into my everyday life and experiences. Life is too short otherwise.
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Absolutely inspiring. 100% amazing. You can’t be mad after reading this book. It’s exactly what I needed in my life and perfect in every way. You need to read this book!
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
IDK this book just hit the nail on the head for me. I got 30 pages in and returned it to the library because I wanted to mark up my own copy. The chapters on color and surprise were my favorite. 🌈🎩🌸
Elizabeth O
4.5 I read this back in January and put off reviewing because I had this cool idea to write an essay instead. But I only got as far as chicken scratches in my notebook... and having this on my "to-do" list for months. And now I don't remember a lot that I read. So I'm not doing it and kicking it off the perpetual to-do list. I liked this book mostly for the way it led me to reflect on the things that bring me joy in my life. As it turns out, I really don't need a lot to be happy. I also believe ...more
Joy Lenton
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If your home, life and circumstances are far from joyful, then look no further. In reading this book, you will embark on a journey of discovery that will alter your perspective and fully equip you to live with a greater degree of joy and peace, once you have put its principles into practice.

In this joy filled book you will find a detailed exploration of ten significant elements, including their defining characteristics and which one(s) might speak to you most at a personal level. The closing pag
Beth Haynes
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved this book - I just reserve 5s for those I think are over-the-top spectacular or very important.

I want to go back to this one and take notes - and start applying her insights to my own life and environment.
What's clearer to me after reading this book is that joyfulness is not something I stumble into (although it could be.) Better, it's a deliberate skill that benefits from practice and explicit effort.
I plan to add to my environment more color, variety, playfulness and elements for surpr
Jul 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: summary
An unabashed applause to materialism - 'Minimalism doesn't bring you joy, maximalism does, and look at those flamboyant flashy decors, they bring you joy don't they'
Mmmm no they don't. And it's not right to try to tell people what brings them joy and what doesn't. I know what brings me joy but I won't force it upon others.
Jun 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
Ever since I started reading this book, I’ve been obsessed with planning more joy into my life.

The 5-star rating is as much about how it made me think as the content itself. I mean, the content is interesting too. Her basic premise is that we are told joy doesn’t come from things but from people and experiences etc. but in reality our surroundings have been proven to have an effect on us—including being able to bring real joy. I fully get behind this idea because I’ve noticed it myself. My books
Natalie Herr
Apr 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book. It takes joy, which we tend to think is defined so differently from person to person, and breaks it down into common categories - energy, abundance, freedom, harmony, play, surprise, transcendence, magic, celebration and renewal. The author gives tangible ways to increase joy by leaning into the various categories. I loved all of her examples, stories and adventures she went on as she studied joy. This book is secular, but I couldn’t help but thinking the whole way thro ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Business-Related ...: Book 1 for 2019 Starts This Week! 1 9 Jan 07, 2019 05:58AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn't, and Get Stuff Done
  • Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times
  • Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore
  • Share Your Stuff. I'll Go First.: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level
  • The Breakfast Club for 40-Somethings: A Novel Approach to Unlearning Money and Reinventing Your Life
  • Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most
  • Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers, and Create Success on Your Own Terms
  • Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter & Organize to Make More Room for Happiness
  • Friends: Understanding the Power of our Most Important Relationships
  • Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
  • Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning
  • Keto Answers: Simplifying Everything You Need to Know about the World's Most Confusing Diet
  • Don't Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life
  • ¡Sálvese quien pueda!: El futuro del trabajo en la era de la automatización
  • Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up
  • Lightly: How to Live a Simple, Serene, and Stress-free Life
  • The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Ingrid Fetell Lee is a Brooklyn-based designer and writer whose work focuses on the way that design affects our health and happiness. As founder of The Aesthetics of Joy and in her role as IDEO fellow, she empowers people to find more joy in daily life through design.

Ingrid has over twelve years of experience in design and branding, most recently as Design Director of IDEO's New York office, havin

Related Articles

You’d never know it from reading the books listed here, but good science writing is incredibly difficult to pull off. There is both an art...
127 likes · 9 comments
“From the moment I first started studying joy, it was clear that the liveliest places and objects all have one thing in common: bright, vivid color. Whether it’s a row of houses painted in bold swaths of candy hues or a display of colored markers in a stationery shop, vibrant color invariably sparks a feeling of delight.” 7 likes
“Burnout often has as much boredom in it as exhaustion.” 6 likes
More quotes…