Joy is reason enough
When was the last time you have done something, just because it brings you joy? Or, when was the last time you said no to something, just because it does not bring you joy? Whenever I ask my clients this question, I can see a bit of confusion in their eyes. Which makes sense, because in our get-stuff-done world, our need for efficiency immediately gets triggered with this question. Choosing joy goes against our learned instinct and conditioning to be constantly productive and efficient.
How do we break free from this conditioning?
One way to break free from this conditioned way of thinking is by reframing the way we think and speak about selfcare and joy. Instead of seeing selfcare and joy as rewards or fuels to be productive, embrace the idea that both are valuable in itself.
This starts with acknowledging that you do not always need to do something only if it serves a purpose. You don’t need to do something only if it’s linked to your career goals. You do not need to do something only if it gets you closer to the end goal of your 5-year plan.
Joy is reason enough.
“Because it brings me joy” is a valid reason. Similarly, saying no to something “because it does not bring you joy” or “no, because it does not bring you joy any longer.” are valid reasons to not do something. I believe that embracing this knowing, is one micro step you can take today to opt-out from our always busy culture.
This may sound like stating the obvious, but to what extent can you feel that the above is really true for you in your current life? In the midst of all the “work hard” and “set goals, and achieve them” messages, we often seem to forget about the obvious. Even though we can all agree on the idea that there is so much more to life than just being productive and chasing goal after goal, to what extent are we actually living that truth?
Easier said than done?
Now, I can imagine that “Joy is a valid reason” may still sound a bit intangible. It might even fall under the category ‘easier said than done’. So how to go about this?
Create a list of what brings you joy
A simple way to start is by writing up a list of what brings you joy. In our busy lives, the things you liked to do just because they bring you joy, may have fallen off your radar. If you cannot think about anything top of mind, try reflecting on activities you used to enjoy doing when you were a child. As a child we did not label activities as ‘productive’ or ‘useful’. We simply followed our curiosity and did things we enjoyed and stopped doing things as soon as we lost interest. Doing this exercise with my clients often leads to picking up interesting new hobbies.
Keep track of what brings you joy
Another way to discover what brings you joy, is by keeping track of the small things that bring you joy. Buy a journal and record everything that feels enjoyable. Joy can be hidden in the small daily things. From nurturing your houseplants to taking a walk outside. And while you are at it, at the same time you can try to record everything that did not bring you joy. Doing this exercise for a period of time, let’s say a month, helps you to get a concrete idea of how you spend your time. Are you actually doing the things you enjoy or is your time spent filled with ‘shoulds’?
Reserve moments for joy
Once you know what brings you joy, it is time to implement more of it in your daily life. A great way to practice this is by leaving some empty spaces in your packed schedule. Now, this may form a challenge in itself. Just know that these blanc spots can range from a couple of minutes to hours. The only rule is that you leave them empty. Those reserved moments can be the moments you can start practicing with chasing joy, just for the sake of ‘enjoyment’. Simply by asking yourself: what would bring me joy at this moment and then go do that thing. Fill those moments with activities that fill you.
A last note for the sceptical readers
I would like to end this article with a reassuring note for the sceptical readers. Because, if you are going to give it a try, know that at first it is going to feel uncomfortable and it may even feel as if you are ‘wasting time’. Which is completely normal since for most of us, choosing joy just for the sake of feeling ‘joy’ is a whole new experience and things outside of our comfort zones always feel a bit uncomfortable at first. Nevertheless, I really encourage you to give it a try, experiment with following your curiosity and joy more often.
Hi, I’m Lian Angelino, certified Career & Leadership coach who is passionate about helping women move through their career and daily life with more ease and meaning.
As a Career & Leadership coach, I combine my background in Work Psychology, (Mental)Health Sciences and Leadership development to help you get clear about what makes you tick and gain clarity around difficult career choices.
In this online space, I share work centered around embracing our full humanity in everything we do and the choices that we make in our daily lives.
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