I believe this.
But I also see that it’s more complicated than that.
I’ve changed A LOT over the years. Yet I still sometimes revert to old habits. I still have bad days where the positive changes I’ve made are nowhere to be seen, and I still get stuck sometimes, even when I “know better”.
The last several weeks have taught me that joy comes in being ok with all of these things, but it also comes from consistently growing into the person I believe I truly can be – the mum, the wife, the trainer and coach, the daughter and the friend.
So now it becomes about figuring out what I need to do differently. How do I go about making changes without inflicting more rules on myself for things I need to “fix”? What commitments am I making, and how will I make them so I’m not strung up in a web of rules?
I suspect my list will need to evolve as I learn, but here is what I have so far.
1. Create a gratitude board.
I’ve chosen this instead of a gratitude journal because I’ve kept a gratitude journal in the past but often felt I was “box ticking” just so I could write something. Habits that feel “pointless” or “unrewarding” tend not to stick.
For me a joy board feels rewarding because it takes less time than a gratitude journal, is less repetitive while still acknowledging all the things I have to be grateful for, and is cumulative so it will only grow over time, rather than me always just writing 3 lines of text about things I’m grateful for.
Plus , it appeals to me on a level that instantly sparks joy for me – using colour, texture and creativity to produce something I enjoy looking at.
When introducing a new habit, the easier and more rewarding it is, the better. So I feel like I’ve personalised this habit in a way that will work far better for me than anything I’ve seen suggested in the literature so far.
The other thing that makes habits easier to stick to is having a very clear “cue” for WHEN you’re going to do them, so I’m going to keep the board somewhere easy to access and put it in front of me when I do my morning exercise. That way it takes no extra time and gives me something positive to focus on whilst doing potentially repetitive exercises
2. Create a “Lessons in Joy” Journal
Yesterday I wrote about some of the key lessons I’ve learned during the past 58 days. The key things that stand out for me in that when we get stuck in our heads, we tend to experience less joy and express more stressful emotions. Judgement and “needing things to be a particular way” also block joy and often trap us in looped thoughts. They certainly do that for me!
So my plan is to create a journal I’ll use each morning in which I’ll have some prompts I follow to help me set my intentions for the day and learn from the experiences of the previous day. It would probably make sense to do the reflective piece in the evenings before bed but I hate writing at that time as I’m usually too tired so I doubt I’d stick to it, and that’s the point with creating new habits. You have to create them in a way that makes them easy to stick to. Even if they’re not perfect, if they take you in the direction of your goals then doing them imperfectly is better than not doing them.
Those are my two commitments for now.
There are a few other things I’m playing with at the moment but I’ll get started with these two first. Doing too much will likely feel overwhelming.
To some people, it may seem like even these two things are ‘adding rules and restrictions’ but my mind, when left to its own devices, can make me focus on the negative, make me lose perspective and keep me stuck in patterns I don’t wish to repeat. Experimenting with these practices will allow me to see whether I can change some of these things and master my mind to a greater extent.
Because, as Julian Lennon said, everything changes once you change.