I recently tried this and it’s like a magic balm. What is it? I wrote a list of THINGS THAT SPARK JOY. I thought maybe it was a silly exercise but I wanted to try it anyway. I sat and started writing and here’s what I came up with:
- Spending time with my husband and kids
- Organizing my closet, getting rid of/donating stuff (LOVE THIS MORE THAN CHOCOLATE)
- Coaching my amazing clients
- Exercising and practicing yoga
- Meditation and breathing
- Hiking and visiting the fairy houses in our local reservation
- Listening to music (especially Beethoven, Mozart, Fleetwood Mac, The Go-Go’s or Bob Marley)
- Reading amazing (or trashy) fiction and inspiring bios
- Sipping really good espresso
- Getting a massage
- Bath with epson salt and lavender oil
- Word puzzles, crossword, soduko
- Sunday styles section
- Writing in my journal (even 1-2 minutes of writing brings relief!!)
- Meals or tea with friends
- Learning a new craft
- Texting a friend or family member I haven’t connected with in a while
I noticed that I have a habit of doing things that DO NOT spark joy when I’m feeling bad…
When we are feeling stressed or out-of-sorts there is likely some need in us that is not being fulfilled. After I made my list, I started paying attention. Here’s what I found: I kept trying to “fix” my feelings or escape before I even realized that I was feeling bad with things are are pretty much ineffectual and might cause more harm than good. So then I started to contemplate what I ACTUALLY do when I’m feeling stressed or lonely or bored or (fill in the blank) any unpleasant feeling.
Here’s what I was turning to for relief:
- Facebook/instagram, check email
- Listening to the news
- Watching TV
- Reading the daily newspaper
- Yelling at my family
- Thinking about chocolate or red wine
- Shopping online
- Complaining to whomever will listen (often times my poor hubbie)
- Sitting and stewing and wishing I wasn’t feeling so icky
And, I had the a-ha moment…
These activities do not really spark much joy are not very effective in the long-term for relieving stress and anxiety. Sure shopping or taking a bite of dark chocolate might relieve stress for a minute but there is always that let-down. And, there is a time and place for shopping, eating chocolate, checking on social media or reading the paper. But, when we are feeling crappy it’s probably not the right time. More importantly, these things DON’T WORK and they tend to cause more problems than they fix. I NEVER feel a letdown after listening to Belinda Carlisle belt out “Our Lips are Sealed” or after really taking the time to listen to my son Dan talk about the funny thing he saw online today.
The Value of a list like this
This list is a tool in your toolbox of life-management skills. Keep it handy and when you are feeling icky or stressed or uninspired, pull it out and do something on the list. Don’t just fall back into your old ways and reinforcing habits that don’t serve you. I suggest updating your list regularly (mine is on my notes app on my iphone), taking things out that don’t work for you and adding in new ideas.
- Sit down and write a list of at least 10 things that spark joy for you.
- Notice when you are feeling blue or stressed or craving something (like chocolate or wine or pretzels or a cigarette or whatever)
- Look at your list
- Pick something on the list and do it RIGHT NOW!
Remember, your list can evolve and change. You might want to add new things or take away things that no longer are inspiring or sparking joy.
What are some activities that spark joy in you? Maybe your ideas will inspire others.