Similar to taking an awe walk, joyspotting is the intentional act of going out into the world to look for things that spark joy in you. While the word may sound unusual, it’s actually amassed quite a cult following – with entire online groups dedicated to sharing in joyspotting (and their subsequent findings) together. Even if you’re not ready to join an online group just yet, find out how to become a joyspotting expert using our tips below.
The Origins of Joyspotting
Joyspotting is a term first coined by Ingrid Fetell Lee. As a designer, Lee began to notice the relationship between one’s surroundings and their mental health. For example: living in a home filled with bright prints and patterns provides an immediate mood booster. Lee knew this was a counterintuitive principle. So often, society tells us not to derive joy from the things that surround us, but from what’s within us.
In contradiction to this view, Lee sheds light on the relationship between our environment and our emotions, and shares inspiration and resources for living a more joyful life through design in her book, The Aesthetics of Joy. She has also created a website dedicated to this viewpoint, that shares the same name. There is also an online Facebook group that we referenced above, The Joyspotters’ Society.
As Lee became more and more tuned into what caused her joy from her surroundings, she began to develop the habit of intentionally seeking out – or looking to consciously observe – these causes of joy. And hence, joyspotting was born. As she says, “The world seemed to be teeming with tiny, joyful surprises. All I had to do was look for them… It was like I had a pair of rose-colored glasses, and now that I knew what to look for, I was seeing it everywhere. It was like these little moments of joy were hidden in plain sight.” Instead of seeing the world around us as beset with distractors, joyspotting is a way of creating a reservoir of positivity.
Twelve Ways of Joyspotting
To become an avid joyspotter is simple. Look around you and determine something that causes you joy. It could be a pair of colorful, patterned socks worn by the man next to you on the train, or the unexpected sidewalk chalk drawings on a walk around the block. But just in case you need a little bit of help getting started, Lee put together The Joyspotter’s Guide, which outlines her twelve tips for joyspotting. Below, we offer a brief description of those tips.
Look up. Joy often comes from things that float or fly in the sky, whether that’s shapes you find in the clouds, or a stray red balloon. Look down. Maybe you discover a rainbow in a puddle, or a vibrant pair of shoes on a passing pair of feet. Keep an eye out for color. What flashes of blue catch your eye? How does an abundance of green transform the environment? Follow the curve. Life is full of hardness, so where do things get soft around the edges?
Go where the wild things are. There’s always joy to be found in nature, whether it’s enjoying the smell of a rosebush, or listening to birdsong. Seek out symmetry. Where there are mirror patterns, there’s often a surprising sensation of randomness or harmony. Search for signs of abundance. Where do things feel lush and full? It could be a fruit bowl on a family member’s kitchen counter, or a few too many Christmas lights at the neighbor’s house. Joy has a way of spilling over. Watch for weirdness. Where are things out of place, or just out of the ordinary? It’s those standout details that often feel most special.
Zoom in. Focus your attention on the tiniest of details. Notice the invisible. What joy surrounds you that can be felt or heard, but not seen? These sightless observations hold a magic of their own. Similarly, use all your senses! And finally, take the scenic route. The paths you wouldn’t normally take often hold the most surprises, and within those, there’s much joy to discover.