After I wrote my post on Play for The Next Chapter’s trip through The Joy Diet by Martha Beck, I hit a wall. In fact, it was the day I should have posted on Laughter.
The writing on that wall clearly said, “outputted out.”
That immediately preceded Connection week and my week’s vacation–well, staycation–from work.
Time has been short this month, and energy for writing blog posts, shorter. Basically, during weeks 8 through 10, I tried to just keep in mind the main subject of each chapter, the “ingredient.”
Ingredient 8: Laughter
Laughter week was a lot of fun! My sister and I do this silly thing where we do funny impressions of cartoon characters, public figures, movie characters, people we know, etc. We laugh uproariously over these. I instigated a lot more of that. I also watched a lot of YouTube videos, this one in particular, which never fails to make me laugh:
Seriously, laughing babies never fail me. Their laughter is always contagious!
I tried laughing for no reason as Martha suggests, but it didn’t work out very well. I stuck to the sure-fire laugh-inducers.
Ingredient 9: Connection
Truthfully, I didn’t read the connection chapter until Wednesday this week. Shame on me. But, like I said, during the appropriate week I did hold the concept of connection in mind.
This ingredient’s week landed after I hit the aforementioned wall. I spent Connection’s week mostly connecting with myself and “filling the well”, so to speak. I tried getting at the root of what had me so worn out.
As usual, it was imbalance. I was in constant “output” mode at work. I was trying to do NaNoWriMo and keep up with the Joy Diet and keep up with my friends and so forth. I had, as I often do, gotten overly ambitious for what I could reasonably get done this month. Also, I was flagging in taking my time to do Nothing. I’m still not entirely back on that horse, but I’m getting there.
I have to say that do love what Beck suggests about connecting with strangers. My job requires me to connect with strangers, usually strangers in all manner of negative emotional states, many of whom are also the sort that will totally drain your energy if you let them. I’m going to try in the coming weeks to find that Nothing stillness while I’m dealing with them.
She makes other solid suggestions in the connection chapter as well, though I don’t think I’m quite ready to implement it in its entirety, for instance risking openness with the family members who drive me crazy. As an introvert and people pleaser, that one has me shaking in fear a bit.
I can see Connection Step 2 being extremely useful for me going forth, namely learning to tell myself the truth while interacting with others, and answering the questions Beck suggests we ask ourselves.
Ditto for identifying what I want from a particular relationship, though, in most cases, I already know.
Ingredient 10: Feasting
How much do I love the chapter on Feasting? I just finished reading it this morning, but I realized that I already do a lot of what is suggested, just less often.
Also, I like the expanded definition of feasting. I think a lot of people, myself included, get caught up in narrowly defining and conceptualizing things. For instance, we think a feast has to be a big meal.
Yesterday, after the Thanksgiving food coma wore off–we had our meal at midday–I feasted on beauty in the form of music and danced. It was glorious! I sat down and wrote in my journal about how it made me feel, as though I were writing to the band, and thanked them for putting their songs out there. I’m going to have to do that much more often!
I regularly feast on books and movies, and, to a lesser extent, TV shows. I already keep a gratitude journal, though I haven’t been writing in it daily as of late. (Must get back on that horse, too.)
This chapter also contained perhaps my favorite quote of the whole book, something I definitely needed to hear:
You were born to be open and honest and brave and playful, to laugh often, to love much, to be loved much in return. You were born for joy. Sit. Feast on your life.” — Martha Beck, The Joy Diet, p. 226
This has been a good experience, on the whole. I know I’m behind in posting, behind in commenting, and behind in implementing everything, but I’ve learned a lot and gotten clear on a lot of things in the past 10 weeks, partly due to this book and reading the posts and comments of fellow Joy Dieters. I have a lot of ideas of how to work joy into my daily life that I didn’t have before, a few more “tools in the toolbox” if you will.
Thank you, Jamie, for leading us in this experience, and thank you to my fellow Joy Dieters for reading and commenting! You made me think and smile and feel supported.