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

There are a lot of books out lately about being happy.  Everyone wants to feel satisfied and content with their life.  Joy is a little different.  Lee describes it as “an intense, momentary experience of positive emotion”.    Lee says, “At the heart of this book lies the idea that joy isn’t just something we find.  It’s also something we can make, for ourselves and for those around us.” So, what causes these little perks in our day? Surprisingly, Lee says, much of our mental health comes from our physical surroundings.  She discusses a number of things that we can seek out to bring us joy some are obvious and others are opposites: orderly patterns and harmony, but also magic, the unexplainable and surprises. Others are celebrations with family and friends and renewal such as we experience each spring

Color is not surprising.  We all know that bright cheerful colors lift our spirits. Play is not surprising either but it is harder to capture as an adult.  I remember taking my niece to see the original Mary Poppins.  She thanked me for bothering to take her to a children’s movie when I was a busy adult.  She didn’t realize that the main reason for having nieces is so that aunts can re-experience the joys of play.

Transcendence: – no, not the spiritual experience – rather balloon ascensions or balloons in bouquets, airplanes, treehouses, anything that lifts our view or makes us look at the world from a new perspective.  I hadn’t thought of balloons much until I picked up a bunch of them for a library program.  I was surprised by the joyous feeling it gave me.

Abundance: such as having a large assortment of goodies to choose from.  A bag of Jelly-Bellies seems to fit the bill.  It offers an abundance of colorful, tasty, little surprises. Or better, a trip to Good’s or Abbott’s Candy where I can select my favorite chocolates piece by piece from a large variety.

I went to see Mary Poppins Returns last week.  Its appeal may be that it covers so many of Lee’s recommendations for joy.  I didn’t take my niece but I hope she took her granddaughter.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

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