Our Stories

Bring on the Joy


Little Reminder: Don’t forget to play today.

An abundance of research links physical environments to mental well-being. We think of our places as the canvas where we design and curate meaningful experiences that inspire dialogue, bring us together and create a communal sense of joy.

Jodie McClean CEO, EDENS

Communities thrive when people feel connected. We lead happier, healthier lives when we feel a sense of belonging, and strong, enriched communities create a stable and supportive society.

Cohesive communities have never been more relevant than in our current cultural climate. Coming out of Covid, people are thinking of good health as not just the absence of illness but a complete mindset and lifestyle. We’ve discovered our mental and emotional resilience; we hold compassion for ourselves, for each other, for those who are most vulnerable and for the one planet we all share. We want to feel better and take care of one another.

In fact, 77% of U.S. adults report they are actively trying to improve their physical and/or mental health in some way. It is estimated that up to 24% of discretionary spending after Covid will be for experiences and products that promote health and a sense of well-being.

Learning Compassion

According to Dr. Christine Runyan of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, compassionate feelings are neurologically challenging for humans. We’re hard-wired to simply stay alive, which makes pleasant conditions even more profound when we consider that we must intentionally create joyful moments.

“Most things that are even neutral become pleasant, because they become fascinating. But we do have to create those [pleasant] conditions. And it’s so worth it, if we do,” said Dr. Runyan in a recent interview on the popular radio program, On Being.

Joyful Association

A few years ago, the Brookings Institute examined the importance of “third spaces,” referring to sociologist Ray Oldenburg’s concept of “joyful association in the public domain.” (The first space being home and, second, the workplace). Strangers seeking comradery and connection will most likely find it in third spaces. At EDENS, we know our places can serve as the canvas for communal experiences that are transformational for the soul, where we can safely flex our social muscles and convene around a shared desire for a return to public activity.

In March 2021, following a year’s worth of weekly surveys with more than 10,000 Americans, The Harris Poll reported that 67% miss in-person celebrations, 50% miss having in-person conversations, 42% feel the loss of being connected to others and 39% miss hearing their friends and family laugh. Half of those Americans surveyed look forward to returning to society after a prolonged period of loneliness and isolation. The other half may need more coaxing and encouragement, and that’s perfectly okay.

Everyday zhoosh

If your return to “regular life” includes visiting one of our places—and we hope it does—you may notice artwork, games, activities and other fun elements designed to spark ideas, inspire dialogue and encourage interaction.

All we ask for in exchange is a SMILE.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more about Tools 2 Thrive from Mental Health America.

For more information on Dr. Christine Runyan: What’s Happening in Our Nervous Systems? On Being, April 23, 2021.

For more information on Third Places: “Third places” as community builders, Brookings Institute, September 14, 2016.

For more information on The Harris Poll: The Great Awakening, March 2021.