Activity: Bring Joy Into Your Body

Person jumping joyfully, destress, Self-care

What does stress or anxiety feel like in your body? How about joy? Ingrid Fetell Lee is guessing the first question was likely easier for you to answer. 

Ingrid, the author of Joyful and a designer who has spent more than 12 years deciphering the aesthetics and science of joy, says we’re very attuned to the physical feeling of stress, but noticing joy—something we often think of as very ephemeral and fleeting—can be just as powerful. 

Try these two warm ups she shared on the Creative Confidence Podcast to bring the feeling of joy into your body. They can help set the tone for a generative brainstorming session, a round of introductions, a project kickoff, and many other moments.


Looking Inward: Joy Reflection

1. Close your eyes. Think of a time in your life that felt joyful.
It could be that you felt completely free, you laughed so hard it hurt, the world felt magical to you, or you were surprised by the power of a simple pleasure.

2. When you have that moment, try to put yourself back there.
What was around you? Who were you with? What did you smell, hear, see, and feel? Imagine as many details as possible.

3. When you’re there, notice what joy feels like in your body.
Does it have a color, shape, temperature, texture? Is it in one part of your body, or all over? Is it still or moving?

4. Savor that feeling for a few moments. Open your eyes.
If you’re doing the exercise with a group, consider sharing what physical feelings joy brought up for each of you.

Feelings of warmth and expansion are common. Ingrid says that’s because joy is an approach oriented emotion, biologically speaking. The physiological response is for blood to come up and into the face and body. We feel joy because it's pulling us toward things that we care about.


Looking Outward: Joyspotting

1. Look around you and see if there’s something in your surroundings that gives you a little lift or feeling of buoyancy.
It could be that you felt completely free, you laughed so hard it hurt, the world felt magical to you, or you were surprised by the power of a simple pleasure.

2. When you find it, focus on it for a few moments.
What is it about this thing that feels joyful to you? What do you notice about how you feel when you’re looking at it?

For a more detailed version of this activity, download Ingrid’s Joyspotter’s guide at aestheticsofjoy.com

Hear more about finding joy at work from our podcast conversation with Ingrid Fetell Lee. 


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