Smile in the mind

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Ben sent me these wonderful photos of hidden smiley faces. He writes, “I think you have to look at the world in an optimistic way to see them in the first place.”

While the human brain is wired to see faces (which is why people see Jesus in a piece of toast, but not toast in statues of Jesus), I don’t think we’re programmed to see them as happy or sad; to Ben’s point, it must be a matter of your personal prism. Do sad people see fewer smiley faces and more sad faces in things? In other people?

It bring up an interesting chicken-and-egg question. One thing I want to suggest with this project is that designing aesthetics of joy into an object or experience can create more opportunities for people to feel joy and therefore improve overall emotional wellbeing. But to what extent do we need to be receptive for these aesthetics of joy to work in the first place? Which comes first: the positive attitude or the positive aesthetic experience?

Thanks, Ben.

Hey, Guess What?

The Aesthetics of Joy is now a book! Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness is now available.

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