Written by contributor Rachel Wolf of Clean and Lusa Organics
I am a morning person.
I make tea and start work while the rest of my family is still asleep.
Still in my pajamas I jot down my daily “to do” list. Housework, writing, homeschooling, errands, classes, laundry… You get the idea.
(Quite well I suspect.)
Like yours, my day is often full before it has begun.
But recently I wondered: what would happen if I began today without the “to-do” list, but instead with the simple intention of having more fun?
What if I made joy my top priority?
“I’m going to be happy. I’m going to skip. I’m going to be glad. I’m going to smile a lot. I’m going to be easy. I’m going to count my blessings. I’m going to look for reasons to feel good. I’m going to dig up positive things from the past. I’m going to look for positive things where I stand. I’m going to look for positive things in the future. It is my natural state to be a happy person. It’s natural for me to love and to laugh. This is what is most natural for me. I am a happy person!”
Yes. I am a happy person. But sometimes I forget that joy and play are worthy of a spot on my “to do” list.
Sometimes I even behave as though work and joy are mutually exclusive.
But they’re not.
In fact, when we raise our vibration and tune in to our happiness everything changes.
We are more productive. We are more at ease. We are more connected. We are more patient.
We find meaning where before there was only work.
Ready to find your happiness?
Me too. Here are some shortcuts to help you along the way.
“Worry is the misuse of imagination,” said Dan Zadra.
And as a certifiable worrier I agree.
Worry erases the present in exchange for a troublesome future. A future that often exists only in our heads.
Reach for gratitude
Sometimes I want to pinch myself when I see the school bus go by. Because I get to hang out with my (amazing) kids all day.
What a gift!
Being mindful of the many things we have to be thankful for is – in my opinion – the true key to happiness.
Each day we are blessed.
When we go outside something transformational happens.
We slow down. We breathe deeply. We relax.
Go outside and find your center everyday.
Joy is close at hand when your body and mind are at peace.
Remove “should” from your vocabulary
When I do something because I should I’m rarely having any fun.
If “should” is your only motivator take a moment to consider your options.
Is there is a more joyful and fulfilling way to meet the need? Just asking the question often transforms a “should” into a “want to”.
Celebrate your child’s playful spirit. Get pulled along by their joy.
Play games together. Go swimming. Race bikes. Be silly.
In short, lighten up. Act like a kid.
Surprise yourself (and your kids)
These are often the most simple ways to find your joy.
How about you…
- Toss the “to do” list and take a mystery drive that ends at the beach.
- Run through the sprinkler in fancy clothes.
- Go to the grocery store dressed like characters from the Narnia books.
- Have a dance party in your underwear.
- Serve popcorn and ice cream for dinner.
- Sleep in the yard under the stars.
Shake things up a little. You won’t regret it.
Find your sense of humor
Let’s face it. Grown-ups sometimes take things too seriously. Especially when events take an unexpected (read: negative) turn.
When your day gets hard reach for your sense of humor.
I backed over our lunch as we hurried to a homeschool gathering last week. (Really.)
And how could I respond to a shredded cloth bag dripping pickle juice, broken glass, bits of lunch and exploded ice packs?
With either frustration or humor.
Neither would make our lunch edible nor make us on time for our gathering.
So I consciously embraced the ridiculousness of the moment.
I put the to-do list aside and realized that sometimes life happens. And this day it happened with the help of my car tire and it smelled like pickles.
Which really was funny once I got over the urge to be irritable.
The upshot is, we get to choose what today feels like.
So while I will keep my to-do list, I will also prioritize joy.
Because today there is both work to be done and happiness to be found.
And I don’t know about you, but I think those two go together beautifully.
Want to dig deeper? I’ve posted recently about my path to joy here, here, and here.
How do you connect with your joy? How do you balance happiness and productivity each day?
“Sometimes I even behave as though work and joy are mutually exclusive.”
Um, yeah. Me too. I like the idea of turning “shoulds” into “want tos.” I do this with housework by saying, “I’m doing this load of laundry to make room for all the good stuff we want to do.” It’s so much easier to do housework when the end result is less stress and more room for more fun things (though we can rock out to the laundry sometimes as well).
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“I’m going to dig up positive things from the past.”
What a simple act. I don’t do this often enough. More often than not, I dig up the hurt. No idea why. It is something that I will certainly have to be more mindful of. Great post! Thanks 🙂
It’s so true, isn’t it? We search and sift for what went wrong sometimes when what went right is there as well. Blessings, Rachel
Very, very well-timed post! I’ve been noticing lately the difference between how the weekend mornings feel as opposed to the weekday ones…and how I don’t mind getting up early on the weekends because I know there’ll be more joy involved (i.e. less “should be doing”). It’s giving me a lot to think about.
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Kerry @ Made For Real
Ironically, I think going to bed earlier and waking earlier would make me more joyful! 😀
Great ideas – thanks!
Kerry @ Made For Real’s latest post: On social graces…
Me too, Kerry. I get a bit of “me” time and start my day not feeling like I need to catch up.
Rachel Wolf’s latest post: Finding joy
Rachel @ 6512 and growing
Very lovely; especially the pickle story. Thanks for this. These days are precious (as all days are) and fleeting.
Rachel @ 6512 and growing’s latest post: getting out
Brilliant! You’ve articulated here so much of what I’ve been thinking about recently and also struggling with. A great checklist and good to know others are working on the same things! I’m looking forward to reading more : )
Emmalina’s latest post: Into the past
I do agree. . I think these are great steps. . . Perhaps even in the midst of a dark depression?
Reaching for joy in the midst of depression can feel like an improbable stretch. Yes, count blessings and search for play but also get professional help. And the sooner the better. You can tackle this climb but you’ll need support.
Rachel Wolf’s latest post: Finding joy
Yes, of course, and I am. Thank you for your encouragement.
I remember reading this little mental trick somewhere (can’t remember where!) and it has been immensely helpful when I start feeling weighted down by my responsibilities: to replace “I should…” or “I have to…” with “I get to…” It really helps to remind me that many of my daily tasks are actually the things that I WANT to be doing. For example, “I have to make lunch” becomes “I get to make lunch” which reminds me of how grateful I am that I have the opportunity to feed my family healthy food and which we share together, every day.
What a shift that makes! It works with kids, too. Instead of “Please do xxx” try “Let’s do xxx!” It’s a whole different request that leads to less struggle.
Rachel Wolf’s latest post: Finding joy
priest's wife (@byzcathwife)
I’m printing this out to remind myself to have FUN this school year!
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renee @ FIMBY
This is beautiful Rachel.
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I am 74-year-old “Poppa” who is blessed to homeschool four grandsons. Good advice here that will benefit both students and teachers. Trying to strictly adhere to “to do lists” too often only results in “shoulding” all over the joyful possibilities if we only put the list aside. Try it. You won’t regret the change.
Yes! I’ve written about that as well, Denver: http://simplehomeschl.wpengine.com/remove/ What a blessing you are to your grandchildren!