Do What Gives You Joy

woman looking at a monkey, laughing in delight.

My personal journey of growth and self-improvement has been bumpy, to say the least. Everything I post on here is about that journey to find happiness, stability, and a healthy mind. It’s not been a linear journey, either. Some days, it feels like I’m moving backward. Some days, it feels like I’m completely stagnating. I want to feel at peace, I want to feel happy. Why is it so hard?

I make all these efforts to find resources and feel like I’m actually “doing” something for my mental health. I mean actually doing it, too. Not just thinking about it or saying what would be a good idea. Real life effort! But often times, I get frustrated with the results, or lack thereof. Maybe I need to stick with it more. That’s one potential problem.

I realized something else was missing, though, from my mental health repertoire. Things had to be simpler than I was making them out to be. Sure, worksheets and self-help books are great, but I still felt I could simplify things.

I decided to take on a radically simple approach. Simpler than practicing DBT skills or finding the right self-help app for myself. Instead, I’m focusing on making time for more joy in my life. Long-lasting happiness and being in complete control of all my emotions and reactions seems a little too far-fetched some days. But moments of joy–that’s attainable. I can achieve a moment.

Well, first of all, what gives me joy?

  • Connecting with people. Whether it’s friends, family, or even nice strangers–online or in person. Even through text is nice. The only criteria is that they are warm people who light up my life. People I can laugh with, people I can trust in, people I feel comfortable with. This can be my best friend or a customer at work. I like interacting with people who make me feel that light inside. Maybe I’m just a filthy extrovert trying to dress it up as something more meaningful. Maybe it doesn’t need explanation. I like to connect with others, for a moment or for a lifetime.
  • Creating something of my own. File this under writing and video work. I want to do more in video production that’s MY work–my ideas. I love helping on other projects, but I have my own ideas. I got into video production because I wanted to tell stories. I’ve cast aside all my ideas in favor of…what? Nothing. What’s stopping me? And regular ole writing–I have two blogs that I don’t keep updated regularly. I can change that.
  • Helping others. As cliche as it sounds, there’s a reason so many people say that they want to help others. I’ve volunteered in the past and loved being able to do something good outside of myself, while getting nothing in return. I recently got back into it with a local animal shelter. I love doing something for the greater good. I would extend this also to doing kind things for others, be it just a compliment, paying for someone’s meal, or going out of your way to do anything for them at all. Again, strangers or friends.

Okay, this a nice list! But I have to actually make it happen. That means “doing”. This blog is not about theory. It’s about practice. I try to showcase when I actually do, not just when I have some pretty platitudes or pragmatic bullshit to spew.

The doing is the hard part though. We all have trouble with the doing, I can say that pretty confidently. There may be a Thing you want to do that will give you joy, but it requires some effort. Effort is hard. Your time, your money, the mental and physical energy you exert are all valuable resources when it comes to doing. So valuable that you may not do The Thing because parting with those resources means more than any benefit you can get from it.

Did I just overcomplicate that? Okay, so, for example: volunteering seems like a great effort to make in one’s life. For me, it’s about giving back in a way that can help the community. But to help the community, I need to sacrifice time and gas money. It can be hard to part with that additional time on a day off or after work, when you feel your free time and energy are precious. Overcoming that obstacle and realizing the reward of volunteering is greater than the sacrifice of time and gas money is essential to achieving this goal.

There’s no way around this. You will either hem and haw on the fence about committing, or you’ll do it. We make time for the things we want to do. After all, do or do not, there is no try. And if you’re waffling about it and have reservations, that’s basically a no. Until you make it a YES! And that’s what I’ve had to do–get off the couch, stop mulling it over, stop wallowing in self-pity and excuses, and just do it.

I still struggle with the doing. Maybe something on the joy list isn’t always accessible or practical, but I’ve talked about other quick fixes for feeling a bit more energetic and productive. Anything to decrease the amount of time I feel like crap. It may not solve all my problems and immediately give me a level 10, top tier, first class mood, but it can make me feel less terrible. Some days, that’s all you can even hope for.

My goal is to do more things that give me joy, more often. If I only make one little step toward it on one day, that’s fine. At least I’m working on that Thing. There are days I don’t feel like doing any steps. That’s okay, too. It’s all a balance and imperfect science. I’m figuring it out on the daily.

So, what gives you joy? Why can’t you do it right now? What’s a step you can take toward it right now?

Be well and take care.

Published by Jessica

Writer, YouTuber, streamer, gamer, yogi, self-improver--still trying to figure it all out

5 thoughts on “Do What Gives You Joy

  1. i enjoy blogging for the most part, and i enjoy that i have control over it. i had a couple blogs that didnt make me happy anymore, so i deleted them. and as hard it was to hit the delete button, i feel much better about myself and where my life is going. that i dont regret doing that. i also am glad that i went back to why i started blogging in the first place, to help me vent and just use my voice so i could be heard. and going back to that, it made me enjoy blogging again.

    i enjoy doing art, i used to just use markers but now since nov 2018, ive been working with watercolours and acrylics. i may not be able to sell my paintings or anything (ive only sold about 6), but i still enjoy painting. im going to paint whether i sell or not. i am even going to paint, when i run out of room to display my art. and when im not in the mood to paint, ill use my markers again and go from there.

    i enjoy listening to music, and it’s always fun listening to new music and even old music as well.

    plus, i love when the weather is nice outside, so i can go outside and plop myself down somewhere and enjoy the beauty that is around me.

    1. It’s so fantastic that you have hobbies that are fulfilling. It shouldn’t matter if it makes you money. It’s great that you are able to just put yourself into that and enjoy it for what it is. I wish I were artistically inclined! That’s really awesome. I’m with you on music though. Music is life!

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