When was the last time you felt “Joyful”?
Can you even remember?
I recently had reason to examine my “joy” quota. Now, I’m not what I would call an unhappy person. I have what some may call a “charmed life” which includes a fulfilling business and a loving husband. We aren’t starving. We aren’t millionaires but we are by no means “uncomfortable”. No one in my close circle of loved ones is ill. So why wasn’t I feeling “joyful”??
When I asked others it became apparent that “Joy” seems to be something of an elusive quality in today’s world. The combination of world events, constant input from others, never ending “to do” lists and demands on our time and energies block us from feeling joyful. When I examined it further I realised that I was actually sabotaging the many opportunities I had to feel joyful and decided to take action. Here is what I did. It may not be the solution for you but it worked for me…
1.”Keep it simple” – have a good long look at that “to do” list – whether it be a mental list or a literal one. Weed out anything that isn’t absolutely essential. Be ruthless. Then prioritise the rest in order of importance. Is there a deadline attached, if so, is it looming or is it months away? If it’s months away does it really need to be on the list now? My streamlined list suddenly felt so much more manageable and less like a millstone around my neck!
2. Step back and ask, what more do I need? – do you really need “more” – sometimes what we have is what we need and that constant dissatisfaction we feel is preventing us from seeing and feeling our “Joy”. Possibly your car is showing its age but does it still faithfully take you where you need to go each day? We are constantly bombarded with slick marketing images telling us that a new car, new house, more clothes will give us the life we have always wanted. A new car may be nice while it’s new but would it also mean we will be more worried about it being stolen and how we will pay the additional insurance costs? Being grateful and showing gratitude for what we have rather than focusing on what we don’t have can be a powerful connector to our “joy”.
3. “good enough” can be good enough – Are you a perfectionist? I was definitely guilty of this. Anyone who has ever heard of the “Belbin” Roles test will identify with the term “completer-finisher”. That was me, however, I was more of a “completer-finisher with good intentions” which meant I really really wanted to finish everything perfectly yet rarely managed it and then ended up feeling rubbish and most definitely not very joyful! I realized that my “unreachably high standards” were draining me physically, mentally and emotionally. So, for one week I decided to see what would happen if I just “did stuff”. Not perfectly, not always bang on time, “just done” (however, if you are a brain surgeon maybe don’t take this too far…) To my amazement, nothing changed and by nothing changed I mean no one died, actually, no one even seemed to notice and life continued as before, only better. All that extra mental and/or physical effort I had been throwing at everything actually wasn’t making one jot of difference to the results. All it was doing was making me feel bad. Every. Single. Day.
4. Unplug from the drama – ever noticed how some people or situations make you feel tired? That kind of mind-numbing, soul sucking tiredness that makes you want to crawl under your duvet and stay there? There is a reason for that. As Einstein said, “Everything is energy”. We have our own reserves of energy, we work hard to keep them topped up with the food we eat and the lifestyle choices we make however people and situations, should we let it can start “feeding” on our energy reserves. That “tiredness” you feel around certain people is them draining away your energy, and with it, your Joy. The first step is to “unplug”. Constant Facebook notifications? Click the button to turn them off. Tiresome WhatsApp group chats? Leave the group. Bickering colleagues? Walk away. More controversially, I made a decision to limit my access to “The News”. I quit reading papers, checking online news sources and “unfollowed” negative news threads on Facebook. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about what goes on in the world, I most definitely do, however, I realized that being constantly told day in – day out that the world is a wicked, evil and unsafe place meant I was no longer seeing the good in it. Where we direct our thoughts our energy follows and we get more of the same in return. Redirect our thoughts to something more positive and our energy and Joy levels can’t help but rise.
Now you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the kind of things that usually crop up in articles like this such as “take regular exercise”, “eat more veg”, “take some time-out for yourself”. Yes, we should all be doing those things and for the most part, I am, which made me think there must be something else, something I am doing or not doing that is affecting my Joy. Plus, if you are a stressed out parent juggling home and work me banging on about “take more me time” isn’t going to win me any friends…. So, instead of trying to cram more in, try taking some stuff out, the non-essentials on the to do list, don’t give away your energy to others, cut yourself some slack and most of all #keepitsimple
Until next time wishing you oodles of
Health and Healing For All