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The Joyletter

by Ingrid Fetell Lee

Designer, bestselling author, and founder of the School of Joy. I help people find more joy in life and work through design. Join more than 45,000 readers who receive our weekly treasure trove of science-backed tips, delightful discoveries, and inspiration for living a better life.

Featured Post

Science says you should wear more color

Hi Reader, Over the years, I've heard from many readers that one of the first things you did after reading JOYFUL was start wearing more color. I love reading the stories of what happens as a result. Whether it's a sense of increased freedom or confidence, serendipitous interactions with strangers, or just a renewed joy in getting dressed in the morning, I'm here for all of it! But does wearing color really affect our emotions? And if so, how? In this week's post, I'm sharing a deep dive into...

10 months ago • 4 min read

Hi Reader, This weekend we celebrate Mother's Day, a holiday that has long been complicated for me. So it's fitting that this week a question landed in my inbox that took me back to a time in my life when my dreams of finding a partner and being a mother felt tender and uncertain. I have a question and it’s totally fine if you don’t want to answer it. When I read your Renewal chapter in your book, I very much related to the first part of the chapter where you talk about feeling left behind in...

7 days ago • 3 min read

Hi Reader, When things get good in your life, does something bad always seem to happen? I used to think that this was just bad luck. But recently I've realized that this pattern can be a sign of something called an upper limit problem. The idea, coined by psychologist Gay Hendricks, is that each of us has a certain tolerance for happiness. When something happens to exceed that threshold, we often engage in unconscious, self-sabotaging behaviors to bring our happiness back down to a more...

6 months ago • 3 min read

Hi Reader, Do you ever wish there were a "bad day" vaccine? Alas, no one is immune to bad days. (Yes, that includes those of us who study joy for a living.) In the past, when I found myself in the midst of one of those no-good-very-bad days, I would throw my hands up in despair. But when I learned about how even small moments of joy can shift our moods, I realized that no day is ever a lost cause. Joy is possible even on the worst days. It may only be a flicker, but it can change everything....

6 months ago • 2 min read

Hi Reader, If there's one truism about happiness that gets bandied about more than any other, it's got to be "money can't buy happiness." This old saw has taken on the mantle of fact since 2010, when researchers Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman published a study that suggested that money's influence on happiness plateaus at an income of about $75,000 a year. This number always seemed somewhat arbitrary to me, but who was I to quibble with a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist? Until this year....

7 months ago • 3 min read

Hi Reader, Last year, around this time, the lovely Kelle Hampton asked me if I had any research on why school buildings often feel so institutional, and so joyless. If you have a child, or were once a child, or you work in education, I'm sure you've also probably asked this question. Kids are joyful. Learning is joyful. Why, then, do the spaces we send our kids to learn feel more like warehouses or (I'll just say it) prisons, than the temples of wonder and play we might imagine? Ecole...

8 months ago • 3 min read

Hi Reader, I used to think of toughness as one of my greatest virtues. I found a strange thrill in the way people underestimated me, a somewhat petite woman with a sunny disposition, not realizing the lengths I could push myself to if needed. Carry that absurdly heavy countertop up three flights of stairs by myself? Sure! Stay up until 4am for two weeks straight to finish my first-year design portfolio? Absolutely. Keep doing 10-hour days of field research while suffering from a nasty case of...

9 months ago • 2 min read

Hi Reader, A few weeks ago, while squirreling around on Pinterest, I came across a particularly joyful little painted cottage. I clicked through, and found an explosion of color, with paintings of flowers, butterflies, and birds covering nearly every surface. A little digging revealed that the house belonged to a Canadian artist named Maud Lewis, who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis beginning in childhood and lived in poverty for most of her life. She never sold a painting for more than $10...

10 months ago • 3 min read

Hi Reader, I used to think I would never leave the city. It’s a common attitude among New Yorkers, who seem to live and die by their status as natives. Even though I grew up just outside the city and my memories were threaded with trips to the Natural History Museum and Zabar’s and the playground outside my uncle’s place near NYU, I wasn’t a real New Yorker until I moved there in my late 20s. Even then, people told me it took ten years before you could officially consider yourself a New...

almost 1 year ago • 4 min read

Hi Reader, This week I finally got around to taking the dead chrysanthemums (yes, really 🙈) out of the planters on my front porch and replacing them with fresh spring blooms. Every time I buy flowers, whether cut stems or for the garden, I hear a little voice in my head: "What a waste of money.""You should be saving this instead.""You're seriously spending THAT MUCH on something that's going to be dead in a few weeks?" I study joy for a living and yet I still have so much trouble spending...

about 1 year ago • 3 min read
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