The Joyletter

Science says you should wear more color

Published 11 months ago • 4 min read

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 the psychological research on color and style to break down for you the surprising ways that colorful clothes can influence your mood, relationships, creativity, and more.

Read the post here

In this post you'll learn what colors to wear when you're giving a big presentation, the best color for leaders of creative teams, and the real reason you might want to wear a little less black.

And read on for ways to feel free this summer, new research questioning some common happiness tips, and a collection of my current favorite things.



One Thing

Embrace your freedom

Of all the aesthetics of joy, freedom is the one that comes alive during the summer months. No matter how full your calendar is or constrained you may feel, summer is still a season of liberation compared with the colder months before it, so tune into the little things that make you feel free.

You can dress freely, wearing loose tees and swingy caftans, sandals or bare feet. Set your alarm clock a little later in the mornings or take a longer walk with the dog. When I lived alone in the city, in summers I switched to commuting by bike, a much freer mode of transportation than the subway, and I left an extra 30 minutes a few times a week to sit in the park and read a book before heading to work. This little slice of time wasn’t much, but it was enough to give the whole day a freer feeling.

For more ideas to find your joy this summer, see here.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Here is a small collection of things I can't stop talking about lately. (Truly, I'm obsessed.) They bring me joy, and maybe they'll bring you joy too.

A gripping read: I listened to R.F. Kuang's Yellowface on audio and flew through it. The story describes what happens after writer June Hayward witnesses her friend Athena Liu's death in a freak accident, and then decides to pass off her friend's unfinished manuscript, about Chinese laborers in WWI, as her own.

A more joyful shower: I was always a body wash person, but Saipua's unusual scents have brought me over to Team Soap. My current favorites are Rose Geranium and Coffee Mint, but they're all pretty hard to resist. The beautiful wrapping papers also make them ideal for gifting.

Delightful maxi pads? Sounded like an oxymoron when I first heard about these, but then I tried these herbal-infused pads from the Honeypot Co, and it all made sense. Honeypot founder Bea Dixon began her company when an ancestor came to her in a dream and shared an herbal formula that cured a months-long infection. As I thought about it, I realized that most period products are made by big conglomerates whose CEOs are almost all male. Honeypot is what happens when feminine care is made by actual people with vaginas.

Exercise I actually don't avoid: About a year and a half ago, you may remember my quest for help starting a weight-lifting practice. With weight training being essential to bone health, this resolution was key to my goal of aging joyfully. Well it took me more than a year, but I finally discovered Future, an app that pairs you with a coach that creates custom workouts for your goals with whatever equipment you have on hand, whether that's a full gym or a few dumbbells. My coach Sam reviews videos to help me fine-tune form, keeps me challenged while avoiding injury, and helps me figure out how to fit workouts in even when life gets crazy. If you want to try it, you can get a month free by signing up here. (Not an ad, just something I'm talking to everyone about lately, and wanted to share with you!)

The most joyful print: If you're not sure which color you want to add to your wardrobe, no need to decide — why not all of them? I got a top in this "gem" textile a few weeks ago and never want to take it off. Ace & Jig has made it into lots of different silhouettes and sizes, from dresses to pants to overalls.

Research Highlight

A newly published review in Nature Human Behaviour is challenging some widely touted strategies for boosting happiness. Led by psychologists Dunigan Folk and Elizabeth Dunn from the University of British Columbia, the study looked at popular search terms like "how to be happy" and then examined the scientific evidence for five of the most commonly recommended strategies: practicing gratitude, meditating and being mindful, spending time in nature, being social and exercising.

Dunn and Folk found that the evidence base for all five of these strategies was weak, noting that out of the hundreds of studies reviewed, 95% didn't meet contemporary standards for reliability. Among the five practices, gratitude and socializing showed comparatively stronger support, but still lack robust evidence.

"If something works for you, great. I’m not saying you should stop," says Dunn. "There are good reasons why these strategies should work. It’s just that there isn’t all that much rigorous evidence to show that they actually do work."


Quote of the Week

"Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it? In a way, the savoring must come first."

—E.B. White From a New York Times interview in 1969 by Israel Shenker

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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