Imagine yourself standing on one leg, with the other leg crossed over your standing leg so that your foot is resting on your hip. Now imagine you have to move around your house this way, maybe do the dishes or make a cup of coffee.
It’d probably be quite difficult, right?
It’d be difficult because your starting position made everything else a lot harder.
The pose is great for yoga, but it’s a hindrance when you’re trying to get on with your day.
What does this have to do with joy?
I’m learning that joy is a choice. In every situation, there are choices about how to apply meaning, what do do, and therefore, how to feel and experience the moment.
In moments where there’s a choice about how to be and what to do, I always turn to my BSET behaviour change model. I created it to help myself and my clients understand the mechanisms driving behaviour choices. The idea was that if we could understand those mechanisms, we could make changes that would increase the likelihood of us doing our desired behaviours.
In BSET, the S stands for STATE. This includes everything mental, physical and emotional.
I realise now that State is a matter of positioning, because the state I’m in right now is a product of the decisions I’ve made leading up to this moment. If I’m tired, anxious, stressed, angry, bloated, lethargic, demotivated etc. these shape my position. This position will be the starting point from which I must move forward to complete my tasks for the day.
So, today I have to film a video for my series on Leadership Skills, complete some legal paperwork for a corporate client, volunteer at my son’s school for the PTA, get my kids to football practice, cook dinner from scratch, tidy the house and spend some one-to-one time with each of my children. These are things I’ll be doing today during which my opportunities to experience or bring joy will present. But my starting position will make that easier or more difficult to do.
This morning, even though I practiced my morning routine as normal, I got myself into a bad mood. At the gym, I had been listening to a podcast and hearing the stories of two dads who were parenting in a way that helped shape their children’s habits for better mental and physical health, and my self-judgement gremlin woke up and started hitting me with a stick.
“You know all this stuff! Why haven’t you done more to shape their habits! If they end up depressed, alone and living in dark rooms staring at screens all day, it’ll be your fault!”
After just 10 minutes after getting home and interacting with my husband – having told him nothing of what I was feeling – he said, “There’s a lot of negativity coming off you today.”
“Thanks. That’s helpful” I sneered.
“Well, I wasn’t sure you were aware, that’s all. It’s not like you.” he said.
Nothing more was said about it, but it got me thinking about what I was doing to my State, how I was positioning myself – and how it would likely impact the very short time I get with my children in the morning before school; always a time when it’s easy to get stressed about how long things take and who is doing/ not doing what I’ve asked.
I’m sad to say I didn’t pull it together in time to be much of joy bringer this morning – although there was a little bit of dancing to Elvis with my son so it wasn’t a total whitewash – but the day is not over and the choices I make from here onwards can change my starting position in each of the moments that follows.
So that’s my goal for today. I realise I’m mentally “standing on one leg” and trying to gain my balance. If I leave the gremlin in charge, I’ll definitely fall over. So today has to be about patience, grace and deliberate pauses for gratitude. If I offer these things to myself, I’ll be in a much better position to offer them to the people I care about. And then, once I get both feet back on the ground, I’ll be in a better position to bring joy to all that the day holds.