On June 18th of this year I published a post about finding Joy. At that time, I promised to let you know where I am on that journey in a month’s time. Today, is the day for my joyfulness journey update! Several readers asked what books I had chosen to assist me in finding joy. Today, I’ll reveal what they were and whether or not they were helpful. I’ve also tried to put priority on my own needs, and just yesterday experienced somewhat of a revelation about how I remove myself from being a priority. In other words, no one is doing this to me, I am doing it to myself.
Books to Help One Find Joy
First off, what was my plan to help me find joy? As you were told in my previous post, I made a trip to the bookstore. There I found two books to purchase. Bear in mind I already read the book by the Dalai Lama and Bishop Tutu titled, The Book of Joy. While interesting and certainly the goodness in both of these men is something to aspire to, it did not offer a lot of practical advice, in my opinion. Instead, I found a small, yet colorful book called Joy in Every Moment by Tzivia Gover (2015). I love this book! I read it from cover to cover, finding that it had great, simple exercises to help increase the joy one experiences in life. It is a book I will return to again and again. However, I have to admit to not doing any of the exercises. I moved from this to the other book I bought called, Mindful Aging: Embracing Your Life After 50 to Find Fulfillment, Purpose, and Joy by Andrea Brandt (2017). I am not yet through this book, and that is telling. I live a purpose-filled life and I am self-aware enough to know that purpose and goals motivate me. I am not looking for more of this, perhaps I am looking for less. I am craving enjoyment in the moment whether it is planned or spontaneous, and perhaps that means not having so much purpose. In the meantime, a good friend gave me a book called The Heartfulness Way (2018) by Kamlesh D. Patel and Joshua Pollack. It is a book she is reading as well, instructing one on meditation, restorative yoga, and similar practices to help one restore joy to one’s life. I am just about half way through this book, and while I find it interesting, I am not sure meditation is the answer for me. But, you never want to knock something until you’ve tried it. So, I will probably give it a go, after I finish the book. It is more instructive than The Book of Joy mentioned above. As a person who likes quiet and a greater degree of solitude than most, I am “in my head” a lot, perhaps centering too much on my own thoughts, and noticing too much of what goes on around me. Again, living in the moment and not thinking, analyzing, or ruminating about plans and actions is more of what I am after. At least, I think this is true.
Actions Are More Helpful Than Words Alone
So, I’ve been reading, but what have I done? Well, I made a conscious decision to exercise more. And, while I have not met my goal of going to the YMCA five days a week – on a schedule that only fits my needs – I have exercised almost every day! They say exercise increases your endorphins, or feel good hormones, and I am starting to feel the benefit of such activity. I have also been more active socially. A couple of weeks ago, I walked with two different friends three different days. I travelled with a third friend for an over night stay during a gallery opening at which my jewelry was featured. And, I just returned from a soccer tournament with my youngest son, at which I at least had to try and be social while at the games. The act of being around other people has benefited me immensely!
My college grad courses have started for the summer term, so I am once again conversing, at least digitally, with my like-minded colleagues. This is important to me. And, I’ve promised myself that I won’t complain about my coursework this term. I know I need the intellectual stimulation, so why complain about it?!
All that said, it might seem like I just needed to be more active socially. But, there are other things that I am trying with some degree of success, as well. I am trying very hard to listen more than I talk. I am thinking before I speak, waiting before I ask, seeing if without my influence things still work out. This is true of household chores, errands, and just plain old conversations. Being a good listener is something we should all aspire to, and it takes work! I gave away some household chores that I typically do to my boys and husband. This includes the boys doing their own laundry and my husband grocery shopping at least once in a while. Nope, the boys don’t do their laundry exactly like I do it, but really – they don’t need to. They just need to do it on their own and take that responsibility from me. They’ve known how to do it for years, but I just kept on doing it!
Earlier, I mentioned having some kind of revelation yesterday. I noticed that I am easily and willingly allowing myself to be called away from something I am doing to help out one of my family members. In yesterday’s case, I was beading a bracelet that was fairly complicated and my husband asked me to come help him. Immediately, I bounced off the chair, shut down the lights, and dutifully followed him outside to help him with something he had been working on – the restoration of an old truck. It only took a few minutes. But, the revelation came when I returned to my beading a few minutes later, put the clasp on the bracelet and ruined it! This really was no one’s fault but my own. I realized that if I had just asked my husband if he could wait five to ten minutes, or until I finished what I was doing, I might have not ruined the piece. I certainly wouldn’t have felt distracted by needs other than my own, which is what had happened.
I think I noted this yesterday because I had been away with my youngest son for five days at a soccer tournament. There, he actually had to wait on me for many the activities – driving to games, to visit a college campus, to get our meals, to get ready to leave the hotel. When we returned home, this shifted back to what it has been – mom dropping her own activity or interest (which might not be important to anyone but me – to satisfy the needs other family members. I noticed it immediately! Now, I need to do something about it!
So, a short time later, I told my husband what I had discovered. He response was to tell me that would have been fine if I had asked him to wait. In other words, I can tell him and the boys that they need to wait until I am finished with my task to address their needs. Obviously, this won’t always work or be the case; there will always be things that need attention immediately. But, most things can wait a few minutes. And, that is what I will work on over the next few months.
Being Singularly Intentional by Stopping the Multi-task
Lastly, and this is just as important, I’ve stopped doing as much multi-tasking as I had been previously. If I am writing, I am also not doing laundry or cooking. If I am doing school work, I am not also checking emails or Facebook. So, far it’s been very effective to be singularly intentional when I go about my daily tasks. I think I’ve been spread very thin over the last few years, and intentionally paying attention to the task at hand is part of being mindful. It will help me restore the feeling that what I do, I do well. And, that was something that had slipped away as well.
Transition on the Horizon
So, this is where I am currently. It’s been a very happy, content, and progressively joyful three weeks. If you care to check back another month, there will be another update on my joyfulness journey, as I transition to taking another child off to college.