2009: a look back

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Of all the years to start a blog about joy, 2009 certainly seems the least likely. The recession deepened, the foreclosure crisis widened, the wars continued. This was the year of record unemployment, of bailouts, of TARP payouts and paybacks. It was a year of pirates in Somalia and protests in Iran. It was the year of the summer of death, where it seemed just about every day we lost another significant public figure, from Ted Kennedy to Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite to John Hughes, Merce Cunningham to Michael Jackson. As if symbolic of our general mood, dust storms turned the sky down under an eerie red.

But the low emotional mood was precisely what I had in mind when I embarked on the Aesthetics of Joy project last January. I wondered if there was something in the things that surround us that might be able to provide moments of delight in this landscape of gloom, like little joyful oases. And if so, I wondered, could we design the things around us to bring us more of these moments? If we could, we might see the benefits not just in mood, but in improved social relationships, physical health and well-being, and perhaps even sustainability, as we hold onto our joyful things longer and take better care of them.

When I started this blog in May, it was a research tool for me. I used the posts as a way to think through certain issues that puzzled me. Why are bubbles joyful? What is it about bursting motions that is so joyful? Can joy be evil? To my delight, you all seemed to find the same questions intriguing, and as the year went on, I’ve been surprised and enchanted by the thoughtful commentary you’ve added to the discussion on joy, whether here on the site or by email. The feedback I’ve received this year from the blog has been so incredibly helpful in refining my thinking on joy, and I can’t wait to share more as the book progresses and the blog continues in the new year.

To wrap up the year, I took a look back at what were the most-viewed posts of 2009. Here are the top twelve. If you happen to be a new visitor, these posts should give you a good idea of what AoJ is all about.

1.  A little wednesday afternoon joyful art…
2.  Joyful project: surprise balls
3. Making sense of color
4. Big sweet tooth
5. Aesthetics of joy or eyesore? happy roses
6. Emotion + graphic design case study: Pudding packaging
7. Invisible dogs
8. Joyful culture: flash mobs
9. “A little piece of happy”: Trident tries to get in on the joy wave
10. The joy of faux tilt-shift photography
11. Joy of hula hoops
12. Humanthesizer: music + movement = joy

It made me happy to see a few of my favorites (like nos. 1, 3, 7, 11, and 12) in the mix. I also like that the top post was an art post — there will definitely be more of that in the new year. And if there’s anything else you’d like to see more or less of, let me know.

That’s all for 2009. Thank you for reading, commenting, and supporting AoJ this year. I hope you have a joyful day and see you in the new year!

xx Ingrid

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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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