Sparking Joy with Our Senses

I’m currently reading Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create ExtraOrdinary Experiences by Ingrid Fetell Lee. She says something that really resonated with me. Lee explains, “We’ve all been told to dress for the job we want. But what about dressing for the joy we want?”

Many of us are Zoomin’ along lately. When I’m feeling particularly worn down, I like to put on a bright colored pair of earrings or bright red or pink lipstick. I have fun fuzzy, pink flamingo earrings and clay rainbow dangly earrings. I’ve got leopard headbands and headbands with bright colored jewels on them.

Clearly, I love a good accessory. But that’s really not the point. The point is that bringing color into a space, even virtual spaces, is a small move that can spark big joy. In evitably when I wear something “fun”, other people smile and comment on it. I’ve been thinking about what bright, beautiful colors can do for our brains and for other people.

Lately, when I create slides for a presentation, I choose images with vibrant colors, keeping very few words on the slide, allowing others to take in the magic of those colors and get curious about why I’ve chosen the image. Besides, we all learned in Presentation 101 that you don’t pack your slides with your content. People can read on their own. What experience are you creating for them?

I also recently purchased a Balsam Fir scented candle from Target and lighting that candle at night is the first thing I look forward to doing before getting settled on the soda. The strong, fresh scent of pine fills our house and wraps its arms around us like a big holiday hug. Every time I leave the room and return, I tell Mario, “Wow, that candle smells so good” – as if I’m experiencing it for the first time. Lighting a candle is a small move that makes a house feel like a cozy night at home.

My friend, Jude Cantor, a 1st grade teacher who is teaching virtually this school year, joked that she is still wearing her perfume every day even though other people can’t smell it. I’ve been wearing mine too. There’s something about spraying perfume or cologne that sends us the message, “You matter. This is a little something for you. Keep trying. Keep showing up.”

Lately, my favorite move to make before starting a Zoom meeting or presentation is to choose some fun music and watch whether people start to groove. It’s really REALLY hard for me to listen to “Get Up Offa That Thing” by James Brown without some shoulder movement. It’s hard to be sad period while listening to it honestly. In fact, I turned it on just now as I write this.

It’s easy to forget that there are ways to appeal to people’s senses and spark joy in the virtual setting.

Light and color matter. “In a study of elementary schools, students in classrooms with the most daylight advanced as much as 26% faster in reading and 20% percent faster in math over the course of the year” (Lee 35.)

How might we bring light, color, or sound into our virtual settings? Joy gives us deeper access to our brains, our potential, and each other. And joy simply is not hard to find or create with a few small moves.

As Lee says, “Joy isn’t hard to find at all. In fact, it’s all around us.” So, let’s look for the joys and create them too. Joy matters now more than ever.

Wishing you big joys with little effort this week.

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