In Joy & Parenting – Part I & Part II, I wrote about an enlightening interview I recently heard with The Joyful Mother, Sigrid Kjeldsen, on the Great Parenting Show. As I mentioned in those posts, The Joyful Mother’s discussion of ways to bring more joy to parenting truly spoke to me.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about Joy-Busters, the insidious (formerly sub-conscious) ways I sabotage my own joy; strategies I employ to limit the amount of joy I feel, whether that joy comes through parenting or other activities. (My Joy-Busting skills used to be sub-conscious. Now they’re on the Internet. Progress?)
As a mom, my daughters watch me closely for signals of how to maneuver through the world. They mimic me in ways big and small, funny and endearing, encouraging and scary. I’m counting on the good stuff I model for them outweighing the crazy shit. Given my tendency to Joy-Bust, I’ll let you know how that works out for us.
Here are my top three Joy-Busters. If you relate, I’d love to hear yours. If not, I’d love to hear how you manage to avoid my brand of crazy.
Joy-Buster #1: Focusing on Outcomes
I’m writing this post for these reasons:
- To keep my promise (In my last two posts, I promised Joy & Parenting – Part III )
- To give myself the gift of joy today (I love to write. Easy joy for me.)
- To cause all of you reading this to think I’m amazing and be blown away by my insight and genius (No, really.)
Oh, and also to inspire everyone in the world to follow my blog. That said, if everyone followed my blog, I’d find a way to quickly dissipate the joy I would feel. My head would likely explode.
So, everyone in the world, if you do not follow my blog, I’ll assume you’re doing me a favor by not overtaxing my delicate system. If you do, I’ll assume you’re hoping for a first-hand look at a head exploding from too much excitement. I’ll be sure to put the spectacle on YouTube for your edification.
Either way, relying on a specific outcome outside of myself to feel joy is Joy-Buster #1 for me. On the days I’m focused on how many Facebook followers my blog has/doesn’t instead of how much fun I had writing a post, I’m screwed. Not only is having expectations a set-up, it’s also a way to keep me closed off to the joy that is there … nothing less than my expectations will be good enough.
My Choice: I want to model for my daughters the benefits of pursuing an activity that brings them joy just for the love of it, not for some arbitrary outcome. Today I choose to ignore my Facebook stats (or only peek at them with one eye). The immediate benefit: My daughters get a happier mama today! (I reserve the right to obsessively check my blog’s Facebook page stats tomorrow).
If Joy-Buster #1 isn’t efficient enough in killing joy, I can always fall back on:
Joy-Buster #2: Attaching to Negatives
It would not be unusual for me to receive several loving, positive comments (about my writing, mothering, cooking, clothing, juggling, you name it) and instead choose to focus on the one slightly negative comment I hear. And by focus I mean obsess. No joy for me.
On a really good day, I have the rare ability to turn a positive comment into a negative. For example, “Your writing is so vulnerable,” in my head becomes “Are you crazy? You do realize this is on the Internet, right?” If only my joy-busting skills were marketable! Perhaps I could be a circus side-show …
My Choice: Today I’d like to practice attaching to positive comments, interactions, people, choices, etc. and let go of the rest. (As I only have another hour or so of consciousness left tonight, I’m feeling fairly good about my chances.)
Joy-Buster #3: Comparing & Pressuring
My good friend writes the wonderful, hilarious blog, Outlaw Mama. She’s brilliant and funny and insightful. She blogs daily, often many times a day. I do not. My writing process is slow and plodding. Hers appears effortless and magical. When I compare my process to hers, my heart gets small and Grinch-like. I want to pressure myself to hurry up and produce (“Go, go, write faster, damnit! Get to work!”) instead of accepting and enjoying my own pace. Comparing and pressuring myself suck all the joy out of writing for me. If I need a buzz-kill, I always can find lots of people who do things better, faster, more attractively. Such an efficient Joy-Buster, this one.
My choice: If I must compare today, instead of comparing myself to others, I’d prefer to compare myself to myself. I wasn’t writing two months ago. I am now. Wow! I’m amazing! (Funny, when you roll your eyes like that you look just like my daughter!)
Those are my top three. There are more, but I’ll save them for another day. I’m turning over my Joy-Busting skills to you today for safekeeping. Please hold on to them for me for awhile. I’ll let you know when I want them back. Thanks.
How do you sabotage yourself and medicate joy? Perhaps your ways are more subtle or creative? I’d love to hear!
P.S. As my daughters grow and their responsibilities multiply, my wish is that they allow themselves the time and space to pursue the activities they love. I hope they choose joy. And let’s hope Joy-Busting isn’t contagious.