Last week, in my first installment of Finding Balance, I discussed how patience plays an integral role in the process of discovering balance on your own terms (boy that’s a mouthful). Today, I’m going to tell you all about a little lightbulb moment I had this week, and how it’s helped me with this whole balance thing in a major way.
So far, life in LA has been tough. It’s been getting a lot better in recent weeks, but I still have so many moments where I just feel lost. I was having a really hard day right before I left for New Jersey, which the old me would have just wallowed in with the company of Netflix and ice cream. But something inside of me wanted to fight for happiness, so I put on my sneakers and went outside for a big walk. Along the way, I started to feel better, more energized, and less depressed. I realized that I had spent so much time that day browsing the Internet and getting lost that I had spent essentially NO time doing things that made me happy. And why was that? Because I didn’t think I deserved any better.
I think that’s something that we all do, subconsciously. We think that we don’t deserve to put ourselves first, even though putting others' needs before our own leads to stress and unhappiness. Sure, there are people we’re responsible for/to, and if you’re a parent, that’s even more true. But at the same time, if you’re not happy, then you won’t be able to care as deeply for those other people or do a top-notch job at work or spread joy to the world around you. You’ll just be going through the motions of life without any real purpose, because what’s the point of doing anything if it doesn’t lead to happiness? Most of us do a great job at making other people happy, and that’s AWESOME. But our happiness as individuals is just as important, and that doesn’t make you selfish or stupid or a burden to society. It makes you better.
If we’re actively pursuing joy in our lives, we’re able to give more of ourselves to the world and to those we love. We’re able to fight for that job that we want, because we have the confidence to do so. We’re able to find balance, because balance --> happiness, and we truly believe we deserve both of those things. By putting your happiness first, you’ll be able to make even MORE people happy as a result. Sounds like a win/win right?
So how do you start finding joy? I suggest you make a list. Think of all of your favorite things, from the stupid things you loved as a kid to the things that make you smile on even your worst days. I think of coloring, being outside in the sun, dogs, music, cooking, reading, and spending time with my friends. Whenever I feel really down, I force myself to recall this list and do something on it that would promote happiness. And slowly but surely, these little actions are helping me to pursue joy on a larger scale. Because I’m spending my days finding happiness, I’m able to open up my mind to options that previously would have seemed out of reach, from where I want to live to what I want to do. The world is my oyster, because I BELIEVE it. And because I also believe my happiness is important enough to warrant risk-taking and adventure.
Now, I’m not telling you to give up your shitty 9-5 job or to dump your kids at an orphanage and run away into the sunset. I’m just saying that you should start fighting for your happiness, on a small scale, and see what it unearths for you on a personal level. Maybe you’ll find that that little thing that makes you happy can become a full-time job. Maybe you’ll see that you’ve been spending too much time stressing about your kids instead of spending quality time with them. Who knows what you’ll find? But the more you practice finding joy, the EASIER it will be to find balance. I promise!
So make your list tonight, and vow to start prioritizing joy this week. Because what's the point of waking up in the morning if you don't have anything to look forward to?