What Brings You Joy?
"What brings you joy?" I asked my wife the other night.
"Bike rides. Snuggling with you." She replied.
"Then lets make sure we make time for more of those things."
"What steals your joy?" I asked.
"Our barking dog. Lia's meltdowns. Max making excuses and whining and not doing the simple things I ask him to do." She replied.
This is part of a conversation I had with my wife a few evenings ago. It's become a tradition after we get the kids in bed. We just lay there holding each other. Talking about life. How our day went. How we're feeling. We just hold each other and talk. I look forward to these moments every night. But the joy conversation has stuck with me...
How often do I get caught up and carried away on things that steal my joy? How often do I forget to do the things that actually make me feel good? I'd be willing to bet if I spent more time doing the things that bring me the most joy, I'd be better able to handle the things that steal my joy. I do it all the time. Focus on the parts of my life that steal my joy. Focus on the things about my life I don't like...but, if I'm completely honest, there's so much about my life that I LOVE.
My days are typically spent like this. Morning meditation/breathing. Green smoothie for breakfast (which I love). Getting the girls ready for school. Then it's time to either a. design cards which involves me drawing and painting and such or b. editing photos. We homeschool Max so I get to spend a lot of time with him. I have a great group of guys I meet with once a week. If I need a break, I can take one. My evenings are spent with my family. I have photo shoots occasionally, but not so much that I'm gone all the time. Life really is pretty darn good.
So why do I focus on the things I lack in life? Or the activities that steal my joy? Do I like washing dishes? No, but I do it and know that when I'm done, it's one thing Jenny doesn't have to worry about. Trying to reframe the way I think of tasks like that...chores, e-mail, etc...things that I don't like doing, in way that allows me to find some joy in them has been a big help to the way I approach my life in this season.
A friend told me last week that I used to be really good at finding the 'magic in the mundane' and that I've kind of stopped doing that. I used to be an eternal optimist and nothing could keep me down. Nothing was too big of a set back to overcome. There's always a solution that brings about a successful outcome, even if it meant re-defining what I meant by a successful outcome. He was right. I've gotten away from that lately...
So, I'm trying this...to focus on what brings me joy. Throwing myself into those things as often as possible. Doing the things that light me up. Even if it's just a simple thing. Maybe it's as simple as pausing after lunch and doing a 10 minute meditation. Maybe it's sitting on the same side of the table as Jenny when we go out to eat. Maybe it's making sure I get an unplugged walk outside. Those things bring me joy and cost nothing but time and effort.
I don't know what will bring you joy, just that there's some things in your life that do, and you need to do them more often. Spend a few minutes thinking of what will bring you joy. Write those things down. Make it a note on your phone even, doesn't matter. Just take the time to think about them for a bit and put them on a list somewhere you can access them. Maybe even get a little jar and write them on bits of scratch paper and fold them up and drop them in the jar and pull them out when you feel like you need some joy in your life and you find a way to do whatever's on that paper asap.
See how much joy giving activities you can add to your life. See if it makes a difference when a joy stealing activity comes up. Because let's be honest here. There's no way around it. Life brings us things that we don't like to do, and yet, we still have to do them. Lia's fits and Max's whines kind of suck, but there's no way to not deal with them.
That's life. Let's see if we can fill ourselves up with so much joy that the little joy stealers can't even make a dent in the JOY we've got. Let them steal a little bit of our joy, because we know we've got plenty of JOY to spare...and when we're running low, just refer back to our joy list.
Imagine how much happier we'd be if we tried this. Imagine the love we'd have to give to ourselves and others. Imagine the patience we'd have for ourself and others. Imagine the impact we can have on the world if we spend our days filled with JOY. You are worth the effort.