How to be more present & allow more joy in
As a wife and mother of two I used to focus on being a “perfect” mother and wife. I would delay my own pleasure. I was so focused on the never-ending kid’s activities, cooking, cleaning, and working outside the home. I was past capacity but kept going and tried to do even more. I scheduled everything, including play time, when my kids were toddlers. I had to make sure we were doing all the “perfect” things a family should do. The sad part was, I was so focused on doing and I missed out on being present and playful. My wake-up call was one summer when I didn’t recall any of the fun activities we did as a family without sitting and thinking hard about it. I realized I was so busy orchestrating all the plans that I wasn’t truly present to enjoy the activities.
Benefits of allowing more joy in
Many people think pleasure and joy are nice to haves, but I strongly believe joy is an essential part of life. Women are the caretakers and nurturers to the world. Women set the tone of a family. You’ve heard the old adage, ‘when Mama ain’t happy nobody is happy’. I noticed in my own life that when I allow more pleasure and joy to be a consistent part of my life I’m less prone to get frustrated and more readily able to handle when something unexpected comes up and takes me “off the schedule” of what I had planned for that day.
I also learned in my own joy journey that when I only focused on being productive, I was not living the best life I could live. I was not fun to be around and was constantly anxious I should be doing more. Perfectionism was a big part of keeping me focused on productivity rather than being present and playful. When I was concerned about being a “perfect” mom and wife, I was really concerned about what others would think of me. As I’ve been on my joy journey and learned to release perfectionism as a way of life, I am now more often able to embrace good enough. This has freed up more time for me to have fun or just sit and do nothing and be okay with it.
Signs you're not living in the moment
Most of the time when your child or loved one asks you to do something (fun) spontaneously, you say or think, “I can’t right now” and “Let’s make time on the calendar to do that".
If someone asked you, what you like to do for fun, you wouldn’t know what to say and might laugh and say, “What’s that? I spend all my time taking my kids everywhere.”
You look back at your calendar and see most of your time has been focused on activities requiring you to do or achieve something versus activities of pure pleasure or fun.
You can’t remember the general details or experiencing the fun associated with the activities that filled your calendar (i.e., going through the motions to check off a box).
When you take time for fun or pleasure your mind is constantly thinking about your to-do list and you barely pay attention to the fun activity or people around you.
When you make time for fun, you watch the clock and constantly think when might be a good time to leave or stop the activity.
You have free time to do something just for you and you’re unsure what to do.
Small steps to choosing joy now
Do 1 thing at a time For example, when my husband watches TV, he watches TV. He doesn’t watch TV while doing the dishes, laundry or exercising. He’s just watching TV.
Create fun lists in your phone
Create a list of restaurants you’d like to visit, movies or Netflix shows to see, books to read, foods to try, places to visit within and outside your city, music play lists, or a funny video play list.
Have some fun or relaxing activities to do when you have only 10 minutes (watch a funny video or dance to your favorite song, call a friend).
Even taking the time to create a list as you encounter the thought of a fun activity will bring you pleasure. One time a friend and I had the evening totally free. No kids or spouse. We spent 1.5 hours looking on the internet trying to figure where to go and ended up staying home. ☹ We laughed about it but also felt somewhat sad that we didn’t have a 'go to’ place. We said we wouldn’t let that happen again. Don’t let this happen to you. If you suffer from being more productive than playful. Make fun lists. You can always start by checking out the Choose Joy Now Network website for our events.
Give yourself 5 minutes Make it a point to give yourself 5 minutes of uninterrupted time each day to do something pleasurable just for you. Remember you can take an idea from your pleasure list. Starting small can be as simple as enjoying the scent of a nice hand lotion and just sitting still and relaxing your body and mind. Add more time as it gets easier to keep that commitment to yourself. If needed, hide in your car or the bathroom.
Go outside your comfort zone You will be pleasantly surprised if you push yourself beyond your comfort zone. For example, I used to mostly read personal development books. After starting the Choose Joy Now Network/Tea's Me Cafe book club, the ladies said they wanted to read more fiction so I pushed myself to find and read more fiction. I now realize I do love fiction. I love reading about the lives of others, but I would have continued to believe I wasn’t a person that truly enjoyed fiction, if I hadn’t pushed myself to explore.
To truly live the life I want to live, I realize I have to make a conscious decision to CHOOSE JOY NOW every day even in the minor things and focus less on just being productive. I'm learning to be more present and playful. Hopefully you’ll join me on your own joy journey and become more present and playful in your life.
May you Choose Joy Now!