I talk to lots of people who want to change their lives in some way. While everyone’s joy is different, wanting more of it is pretty universal. A very common reason I hear for not creating more joy is that there just isn’t enough time or energy to add on one more thing. Change takes work and we’re already working so hard. Completely valid.
To bring more joy into your life, you have to make room for it. You can’t put new clothes in your closet if it’s already full. Similarly, you can’t shove more fun into an already overstuffed calendar and you can’t cram positive thoughts into your mind if it’s already overflowing with negativity and complaints. To create space for things that do serve your highest good, you gotta get rid of the things that don’t.
This requires a bit of reflection. Is there anything in your life that no longer serves you that you would like to release? These can be anything, from minor nuisances to major life changes. Let’s start with the little ones and work our way up. As you go through your day, what are the small annoyances that detract from your joy? These are things that may not matter in the big picture, or may not matter to most people, but they matter to you, so they’re important. For example:
- That person in your office who is constantly clicking their pen - ask them to stop or give them a non-clicking pen.
- The continual drip of disaster and human suffering from the news media - turn it off.
- The alarm clock that is too loud and jarring - replace it with something that starts your day more gently.
- That pair of underwear that always itches - get rid of it!
- That chair that squeaks - WD40 now.
- The fact that your little ones won’t let you have two private minutes to pee - Door locked. Boundary set.
Now on to the bigger issues. Take a look at your to-do list or calendar. Of all the stuff you have to do, how much of it do you really WANT to do? How much of it do YOU really HAVE to do? Can any of it be handed off to someone else? Can any of it just be left undone? For example, if you really enjoy being on the holiday committee at school or at work, do it! The rest of us are grateful to you for doing it. If you dread being on the holiday committee, try saying, “Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m going to pass.” What can come off of your list of responsibilities to make room for things that better serve your happiness?
Now that you’ve got the hang of this, let’s talk about the things that are harder to let go of. These are the most important - judgment, self-criticism, complaints, fear, perfectionism (you hear that people pleasers?) You may need some help to release these things - there is absolutely no shame in that. It is not easy. I challenge you to push negative thoughts out of your mind by choosing positive ones. Speak to yourself with kindness. Most of us have a critical (or down right mean) voice in our heads. Be aware of that voice and make a conscious decision to speak to yourself differently. For example:
- I know I can do this.
- I love _____ about myself.
- That didn’t go so well. That’s OK. I will do better next time.
- I deserve good things.
- I look beautiful today.
- I am more than good enough just the way I am.
- I rock!
Setting boundaries and saying “no” to things you don’t want is an act of self-love.
The up side of saying “no” to things that deplete you is that you will clear your path enough to say “YES!” to things that nourish your mind, body, and spirit. By setting releasing anything that doesn’t serve your best interests, you’ll have more room for new experiences, new people, new opportunities, more meaning, and more fun.
Your time and energy are valuable. You deserve to spend them according to your own intentions.
Have a joyful day! -