The Joyletter

12 ways to be gentle with yourself

Published 10 months ago • 2 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 the flu? You better believe it.

Until a coworker found me curled up in a ball on the floor of the client's restroom, my body literally refusing to continue.

At that time, the idea of being gentle with myself sounded a lot like weakness — a cop-out. Being tough was so important to me because it was how I had survived the darkest days of my childhood. And yet, at a certain point, the toughness that had helped me push through adversity was limiting my ability to live a full life.

Keep reading

Writing this week's post made me realize the difficulty of being gentle in a society that venerates struggle and sacrifice. If you know someone finding it hard to be gentle with themselves, please forward this email or share the post to let them know they're not alone.

And scroll on for a joyful podcast, a colorful reader story, and a very exuberant One Thing!



One Thing

Jump for Joy

The photographer Philippe Halsman took photos of everyone who was anyone in his day, from Marilyn Monroe to Audrey Hepburn to Richard Nixon, and he always made them jump.

Halsman called this "jumpology" and believed that it helped people drop their masks and release the joyful self inside. Whenever I try this one, I always find that it gives me a burst of energy, even on the most lackluster days. To put this into practice, you could jump on the bed, bounce on a trampoline, or do jumping jacks.

And for more quick-pick-me-ups, see here.

Clockwise from top left: Audrey Hepburn, Eartha Kitt, Shirley MacLaine, Salvador Dali; photographed by Philippe Halsman.

Listen: Ten Percent Happier

This week, you'll find me on a favorite podcast: Ten Percent Happier. In this episode, Dan Harris and I dig into the science of joy. In particular, you'll learn about:

  • The physiological and psychological benefits of joy
  • How to find joy in tangible objects and sensorial experiences
  • What "faux joy" is and how to avoid it
  • How joy can intersect with other emotions such as sadness and awe
  • How to access joy even on your worst days

If you're new to this community, this podcast episode is a great introduction to my work on joy and how to get the benefits of it in your daily life right now.

Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts

Joy Story

I love reading your stories of finding joy out in the world. Some of my favorite stories are the ones where you made a joyful change in your life, only to discover it brought others joy too. This week's Joy Story is just such an example:

Just wanted to let you know that the info you posted about cars becoming less colorful really stuck with me. I recently found myself needing a new vehicle after I was rear-ended and my car was written off and ended up going with a bright yellow Kia Soul. The amount of joy it's brought me AND it's brought to other drivers on the road is undeniable (at least I'm telling myself other drivers are pointing at the car and not at my skills hehe).
— Hannah

Looking for that info about cars becoming less colorful? You can find it here.

Quote of the Week

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

— Albert Einstein

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.

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