Collecting Everyday Joy
TAoN No. 116: A lovely idea (and a discount code!) from Ingrid Fetell Lee. Plus a new Missing Word. And more.
I’m a longtime fan of Ingrid Fetell Lee, having followed her insightful and inspirational blog Aesthetics of Joy long before it led to her popular book Joyful — plus a TED talk, slew of media appearances, and an online course (more on that below), among other things. I’ve mentioned her work and thinking a couple of times in TAoN.
We had an exchange recently in which Lee mentioned an experiment she’s been playing with, related to “noticing the small joys in life.” I really liked the idea, so I asked if she’d share it with TAoN readers. Here goes:
I often talk about how we tend to overlook these moments or dismiss them as trivial because they’re so small.
But awhile back I was scrolling through my camera roll looking for something and I noticed how I kept getting reminded of these tiny moments of joy: the day my son figured out how to go down the slide, the day we discovered a sparrow’s nest full of eggs in the boxwood next to the house, etc. Yet I only remember those because I have photos of them.
So I’ve been experimenting with keeping a jar and little slips of paper on my desk, and taking a moment to write down small joys and fold them up and drop them in. When I need a pick-me-up, I take them out and read them.
It’s interesting how quickly I forget about the moments — even reading them at the end of the week is full of surprises. I only just started this but I think it’s already making me more mindful, and more focused on making time for the small things.
What a charming idea! Thanks so much, Ingrid!
For more, follow Ingrid on IG @ingridfetell and check out her site. Also: Read the next item below….
Check out past guest prompts from Tom Vanderbilt, Anne Kadet, Jude Stewart, Michael Pederson, Ximena Vengoechea, Ron Lieber, Wesley Verhoeve, McKinley Valentine, Miranda Mellis, Mason Currey, Josh Glenn, and Rebekah Modrak.
“JOY JUMPSTART” DISCOUNT FOR TAoN READERS!
If you like the joy jar idea, or Lee’s work in general, you will be interested learn a) that she has an online course called The Joy Jumpstart, and b) that she is generously offering a 15% discount to readers of TAoN.
It’s a seven-day, self-guided course. “The exercises in it are all creative prompts designed to help people who are feeling burned out or stuck in a rut get re-energized,” Ingrid says. “There are a lot of ‘noticing’-style exercises.” Learn more here, and if you’re into it then use discount code TAON15.
(Just to be clear: This is in no way an ad or some sort of commission thing! I’m a fan of Ingrid and her work — and she’s being generous because we go back a ways!)
Dictionary of Missing Words is an exercise in paying attention to phenomena you encounter — sensations, concepts, states between states, feelings, slippery things — that could be named, but don’t seem to be. More here and here.
This week’s missing word is from reader Cynthia, from the comments:
Dictionary, please tell me what word describes the invisible barrier between particular people and you that cannot be penetrated nor identified.
Yeah, I know this barrier. I often wonder if it’s theirs, mine, or comes from somewhere else.
What else should we add to The Dictionary of Missing Words? Leave your suggestion — or respond to this one — in the comments.
In forthcoming Thursday paid-subscriber-only editions, I’ll have my July idea roundup, and a prompt indirectly inspired by Bryan Washington’s (excellent) novel Memorial.
Last Thursday I wrote about why Claes Oldenburg is a Hero of Noticing, and the Thursday before about “inevitable information,” as part of my series on coping with info-tech distraction. Over the weekend, I learned a lot from this subscriber-only discussion thread about online learning.
For access to past and future Thursday posts, discussion threads, and other surprises, become a paid subscriber.
The next free Monday edition in two weeks.
IN OTHER NEWS
Read Friend of TAoN Debbie Millman’s terrific foreword to Lost Objects on Printmag.com. And read Nina Katchadourian’s excellent Lost Objects entry, wonderfully illustrated by Lisa Congdon, on LitHub.
For Fast Company I wrote about why Steelers fans want their stadium to keep its corporate sponsor, and for Ceros I interviewed the amazing Jennifer Daniel about her emoji work.
I’m really enjoying friend of TAoN Thomas H. McNeely’s new short story collection, Pictures of the Shark.
Object-story fans: Check out The Blue Suit, an intriguing new podcast about “modern-day heirlooms.”
Why George Washington is now looking the other way on the quarter (and how that ties to logo design trends).
Counties with more [goats/chickens/cows/etc.] than people. Via
Things Found In Library Books. (Notes, papers, pictures, etc.) Via.
Claudia Dawson brings us the word “noticient” — “a sentient noticing.” She writes: “It begins with noticing, then becoming conscious of the senses or intuitive sensations. It is a state of being.” More here.
OKAY THAT’S IT!
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As always, I value your feedback (suggestions, critiques, positive reinforcement, constructive insults, etc.), as well as your tips or stories or personal noticing rituals, things we need a word for, and of course your icebreakers: email@example.com. Or use the comments. —> Or just click the heart symbol. That always makes my day.
And thanks for reading …
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All this by Rob Walker PO Box 171, 748 Mehle St., Arabi LA 70032
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We do a version of this in our house - every time we do something fun or that we want to remember (first long walk of the spring, bonfire with friends, concert at the park, etc), we write it down with the date on a slip of paper and drop it in a jar. We keep it going through the year, and on New Year's Day, we pour glasses of bourbon milk punch, empty the jar and take turns reading the notes. Such a lovely way to remember the past year and to inspire us to fill the jar again for the next.
I did this with memories of my two babies. We have the big 64oz mason jars. We used to fill one up a year and read them on New Years Eve. We got out of the habit but it’s so fun to write them down. I love the little joys, and I fill my days with them as much as possible.