We’re two weeks into the year, and to be honest, I’ve been really out of sorts lately. It’s not a matter of post-holiday letdown – I think it’s new year overwhelm.
I don’t tend to make new year’s resolutions, but I do like to look ahead at things I want to change or incorporate into my life. Since my schedule felt pretty tight last year, I’ve been trying to prioritize the things I want to do this year so that I feel more balanced and stay healthy. But somehow I seem to keep coming short of time.
So I went out and bought one of those 3-month dry-erase calendars and started mapping things out and seeing where everything could fit. And then I realized: it doesn’t all fit.
And then I wanted to just curl up into a ball. There’s so much I want to do, so much that’s important to me, but how do I do it all? When?
Since I have two young boys that need and deserve my attention, curling up into a ball wasn’t really an option. So instead I became unintentionally short-tempered, frustrated and emotional. (Sorry, boys)!
Then this morning I saw a Facebook post with a picture of a man smiling and being silly. His expression looked familiar yet almost foreign. And I realized: that used to be me. (Not the man part, but the silly, smiling part).
And then it hit me: I had stopped allowing joy. Me, the person who passionately wrote a free guide called 5 Keys to a Joy-filled Life, had lost sight of joy.
This stopped me in my tracks.
So here I am, ready – so ready – to reconnect with joy. To smile more and laugh more. To have fun again. And as joy comes from within, it’s time for me to start my practice of joy again.
If you can relate to how I’ve been feeling, here’s a short version of the 5 keys that I talk about in my guide:
Live in the Moment
Focus on the present moment instead of on where you’ve been or where you’re headed. Really notice what’s happening around you. This way you don’t miss out on the great “small stuff”: light shining beautifully through the trees, the opportunity to lend a helping hand or the chance to really listen to someone.
Practicing daily gratitude can change your life. Really. Acknowledging how fortunate you are and being specific about why you’re grateful – even for the tiniest good thing – helps take your focus off what may be frustrating or upsetting, and attracts more good into your life. A gratitude journal is a great way to practice gratitude. Write down one thing each day (or more, if you feel inspired) you’re grateful for. Then when you’re having a tough day you have something positive to look back on that can help shift your mood.
Embrace Your Awesomeness
You are amazing, right now, exactly as you are. Yes, you. Hard to believe, I know, if your inner critic (or monkey mind as it’s sometimes called) constantly fires nasty messages at you. So, a fun exercise you can do is make a Personal Awesome List (“I am awesome because…”) where you list your amazing qualities (kind, funny, trustworthy, creative, helpful, etc.). Fill up as much of a page as you can, and read it often.
Rekindle Your Childlike Wonder
Kids are amazing. They see life as a playground and imagine the most incredible scenarios. And they don’t filter things out as “impossible.” We can learn so much from that.
“A grownup is a child with layers on.” ~ Woody Harrelson
Try taking some time to peel back the heavy, burdensome layers you carry, and allow yourself to imagine what you’d like to do or try if there were no limits. When you were a child, what were activities you loved, that you could do for hours without even realizing it? Maybe you can incorporate the “flavor” of those activities into your life now.
Seize the Day
Sometimes we get stuck in the monotony of the same-old, same-old. To experience joy we need to get out of autopilot. It’s time to shake things up a bit. Time to add some fun and adventure back into life. There are lots of simple ways to do this, which include:
Do things differently: Even driving a different route to work could result in something interesting and unexpected happening.
Embrace everyday adventures: Let your heart guide you instead of always listening to practicality. Instead of saying “no” to a fun chance to step out of your norm, say “yes!”
Embrace silliness: We often take life – and ourselves – too seriously. Balance it out by lightening things up a bit. Think of a fun, odd and out-of-the-ordinary thing you can try this week. Maybe serenade someone or do a happy dance down the sidewalk! Let your imagination run wild with thepossibilities. It may feel weird, but it’ll definitely help you feel alive. Have FUN with it!
Though I still haven’t figured out how to prioritize everything, I know I’ll sort it out. In the meantime, a top priority is to allow joy!