I don’t know about you friends, but January usually finds me trying to slow down and take stock a bit about what’s important. It’s sometimes a forced change in pace. The winter weather keeps us in, the hustle of the holidays are over and things are just generally slower for me in business. I need this “reset” so badly but I also find myself resisting it. So, instead of resolutions of things I need to start, I’ve actually been thinking about some things that I know I need to stop doing in order to allow for more joy in my days!
Listen friends, I am taking this advice as much as I am giving it. I’ve been wrestling with chronic stress and insomnia (see also “Mommy Burnout” by Dr. Sheryl Ziegler) so these are things I need to stop as much as anyone to gain fresh joy and perspective in my life, as well as my health.
1. Stop over scheduling: This seems self explanatory but we all need to take a good look at our schedules, especially as we head into spring and a new season. Don’t try to jam in too many things for yourself or your family. Kids need margin too. They need free play and even, boredom. I know how much it causes me to get frazzled when I am rushing everyone around and nothing puts disappointment on a kids face like telling him he has to rush off somewhere instead of getting to play outside with friends/siblings.
“Busyness is a byproduct of our culture. It is the sacrifice we make for our religion of more, for our perfectionist tendencies, for our temptation to over schedule, over inform, overprovide.” - Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow
2. Stop Comparing: We all know the saying that “comparison is the thief of joy” and yet so many of us live constantly trying to see how we measure up. I think this affects each of us differently, but it can be everything from body image, to clothing style to our home or kids…It is any area of life that we find ourselves comparing and lacking. Don’t do this to yourself. If you find yourself comparing, take a step back and ask yourself why?
“There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” -G. K. Chesterton
3. Stop wasting too much time on internet: See above about the comparing issue….so much of this springs from our internet culture. We don’t all need to know what the housewife in Wisconsin is baking or decorating or wearing today. It’s not that all these things are bad things, but it’s just that it takes up time and mental space that you could devote to other things in your days. Set a timer if you need to or remove apps from your phone. A big help is turning off notifications so that you aren’t getting dinged constantly and beckoned to come look at your phone. I promise more days with less internet will bring your heart joy.
“Deep breath. Are we all inhaling intoxicating Pinterest fumes? An oxygenated reality? And if so, can we call it true inspiration? The definition of inspiration is the drawing of breath, an inhalation, a gasp. A filling-up that offers an abundance of energy for your day, for the task, for that project, for this life.”
- Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow
4. Stop acting like you don’t have power to change: I heard a podcast the other day talking about maintaining a family’s schedule and the interviewer said, “it feels more like the family schedule controls me than I control it.” I do understand this feeling for sure, but a question arose while I listened. Are we not in control of what we choose to fill our lives with? We truly do have the power to change things if they aren’t working for our lives or families. If nothing else, America is certainly the land of choice. We have options about schools, jobs, foods, etc. We can change things that aren’t working. Does that mean it’s easy? No, it most likely won’t be easy. I can revisit a lot of feelings from early last year when we contemplated moving…it was by FAR not easy and 2018 was the year that tried to kill me, but now sitting on the other side of that journey in our new home, I can see it was worth the huge change. This idea of the power to change can apply to all kinds of habits, from our health to our housework, so don’t be afraid and start small! One small change can lead to big differences over time.
5. Stop with the frantic: I know all these suggestions here are like a spiderweb that all connects at this point, which they do. This frantic part though, it’s not just a pace but the frantic part is a mind set. Frantic has you thinking, “when your mind has to work seven steps ahead instead of just being where you are, because this deadline’s coming, and the laundry has to get done before that trip, because you can’t forget to pack snowpants for school, and you need to beg for more time on this project. Again…Good things like efficiency and multi-tasking go off the rails so far that sometimes I find myself running in my own house, shuttling things from room to room like my life is a timed obstacle course. This is insane.” (excerpt from Shauna Niequist, Stop Hustling and Get Your Life Back).
I find myself getting like this all the time, worrying about everything from big decisions like education all the way down to what is for dinner. It’s not like we can escape a lot of these parts of life, but we can make room for more slow time and quiet. It’s the opposite of what culture teaches us constantly, which is to dominate, to hustle, and to succeed at all costs. Sometimes “success” needs to just being to slow down and play with our preschooler on the floor. Our souls need a lot more of that type of interaction than the constant hustle. As I am exploring my serious need for rest and a change of pace, this is not only a preference issue but an absolute necessity for me. I need to change out of the frantic if I am going to find health again.
I hope you hear my heart on this Monday morning, we are in it tougher. What are some things you need to STOP doing in order to create more joy in your days?