Tag Archive | joy

Whyfor No U?

There is one constant undercurrent to my journey learning to work within the visual thinking/graphic recording world.

I’m so far behind.

Reading the stories of other people who do this, there’s a recurring theme of I always drew things and I started working in design in High School and I started calligraphy when I was eleven and the equivalent.

Meanwhile, here’s me at age fifty trying to learn gesture drawing and left-handed brush-lettering. Don’t get me wrong: I’m loving every minute of it, and I’m absolutely being supported by my friends and loved ones. And I’m showing improvement, and things are going well.

There just keeps on being this whispering voice in the back of my head: Think of how well they’d be going if you had started earlier. Now, I’m familiar with that voice; I got a dance degree at the venerable age of 28, after all (“28?!? You don’t look THAT old!” I remember one fellow student exclaiming during technique class). I’m well aware that the voice lies, that the experience I have gained doing Other Things will continue to serve me well, and that It’s Never Too Late and blah blah all the other things personal development blogs will tell you.

It’s just another version of the aphorism about when the best time is to plant a tree: ten years ago. Second best time? Right now.

This isn’t about that. No, it’s one of those Hey, I noticed this thing about myself; you might want to check and see if it applies to you, as well.

See, here’s the thing: it’s not that I never drew things. My parents can attest to the constant rotation of Ed Emberley books I checked out of the library. I still have notebooks covered with doodles (swords and spaceships, mainly) and even early typographical experimentations with handwriting and lettering.

But at some point, I stopped. And I don’t know why.

Ghosting Your Own Joy

I’m not sure exactly when it happened. Somewhere in my early teens; somewhere in between the fading of my BASIC programming and D&D hobbies and the start of my musical and theatrical obsession in high school.

I can’t take the easy route and blame some authority figure in my life who told me art would not be a realistic career choice (though I do remember my mother asking me why I was so obsessed with this “computer fad” – why would anyone want one of those in their house?).

It may just be that I didn’t have time – <sarcasm>Unlike now, I was always finding new and interesting subjects to delve into and try</sarcasm>. Whatever it was, at some point, in my brain, I divided the world into two parts: those who make visual art and those who don’t. And I put myself in the latter category.

I wish I had kept it up, on some level. I wish I had kept that skill, even as a hobby, developing and growing. A daily sketch, even something like Patrick Rhone’s coffee cup, would have kept those particular creative juices flowing.

But I didn’t. And now, I regret it.

That’s the point of this post. Think about that thing you used to do, that you liked, that for some reason, you stopped doing.

There’s not much point in wondering why you stopped. Maybe, instead, you do it, just a little, again. See what it feels like. It’s possible within a few moments you remember exactly why you stopped, and that’s good to know. 

But maybe it’ll be like a reunion with a best friend you haven’t seen in years. Maybe it’ll be the re-starting of a new passion, a new joy in your life.

Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to find out?

Coming Back to Life

Hi there! This is the second time I’ve come back to this blog after a long hiatus. The first time I shut it down, it was because I felt that there was nothing that I was saying that other people weren’t also saying, and usually better than I did.

Then the 2015-2016 U.S. election cycle began, and I realized that there was still a need for voices to remind people of the ways they could still find love, enjoy their life, and build constructive practices.

Practicing What You Proselyte

In 2016, though, I found myself feeling spread really thin. I was starting a new project – a startup called “Consent Rocks”, focusing on improving the consent practices in the altsex community and beyond – and it was going to need far more of my attention than I’d first realized.

It probably seems obvious, given the 2017 headlines full of sexual harassment and assault allegations and revelations, but back then it was a truly new approach to handling these kinds of incidents in ways that would reduce the trauma for everyone concerned.

As someone who had many times explained, both in prose and in person, that ”you can’t do everything”, I realized that I had to give up something. I had to choose between doing many things poorly, or choose to focus my energies on something and really do it right.

Almost Did It, Too.

We built something good; we helped a lot of people, and more importantly sparked discussions and inspired actions by individuals and organizations. We were, I believe, responsible for people to begin using the more accurate term “consent incident” rather than “consent violation” (which pre-judges circumstances).

Unfortunately, two things happened: First, I began to see that my own role as a Director and Producer of events like Open Space was a conflict of interest to my work with Consent Rocks.

Second, there was a consent incident where the process of Consent Rocks was inadequate to address the needs of the person who most needed it. There were a lot of factors involved with more people than just the Consent Rocks Crew, but our methods contributed to making a bad situation worse.

We shut down operations and right now the organization is going through some restructuring, and part of that is my resigning from the Board (yep, it’s a real-live non-profit organization) and from my duties as Training Director.

Finding a Reason

I now have time again to write!

But…let’s be clear: just because I have time to do something, doesn’t necessarily mean that I should. Even if I wasn’t a fan of things like the Bored and Brilliant project, my inner Zen Buddhist would be whispering to me, “Don’t just do something; sit there.” I wanted to avoid the ego-trip of writing simply for the sake of seeing another article appear on Medium or on my blog.

And besides…it’s 2017. We have a self-confessed sexual predator and narcissistic liar in the highest office of the land, and things don’t get much better the further down the tree of government you travel. The U.S. is more fractured than ever, with people shifting the discourse from “I disagree with your ideas, but you have the right to have them” to “You are a danger to me and mine because of the ideas I believe you have”. The possibility of a bloody civil conflict is not only real but possibly we’re already in it, just without recognizing that it’s begun.

It’s scary. It’s depressing. And somehow writing a personal development blog may be the most inconsequential and narcissistic thing one could do with their time.

Help Yourself

I’ve been learning how to escape zombies.

That is, I’ve been doing the “Couch-to-5K” training program that Run, Zombies created – and you can bet I’ll be writing about the experience of being a former letterman cross-country runner starting on the “couch” end of that program.

Rehearsing my “Zombies don’t eat me!” Expression.

The thing is, I don’t like running – or, at least, I don’t look forward to it. But it does provide an outlet for anger, as well as a treatment for depressive episodes that come from watching the things happening in the world. So I was puffing and wheezing and shuffling along, angry at my body as much as anything else…and I realized, at that point, that I did in fact have a reason to go back to writing this blog.

Not for you. Well, ok, for you, you know who you are, but not for those of you who read this and who don’t really know me.

No. I need to write this blog because I need to be reminded of the reasons to carry on. I need to be reminded that it’s ok to love fearlessly, to live joyfully, and to build constructive practices to carry me through the dark times.

So yep. I’m back, and this is your Life post – because Life is worth it. There’s a lot of sayings that are appropriate for this kind of gritty determination in the face of hopeless odds. Things like “nil illegitimi carborundum” or “C’mon you apes! You wanna live forever?” or even my most recent favorite, a quote from the Duke of Wellington when his mistress tried to blackmail him: ”Publish and be damned!

But I think the one that I’ll close with is one that a good friend of mine, who works with me on creating spaces where people can find their authentic joy, mentioned to me. This is the battle cry that we’ll take as we restart the engines of LoveLifePractice:

“JOY is PROTEST”

Rediscovering Pleasure in Professionalism

In the rush to be more productive, to be more successful, to be more…whatever it is we’re trying to be more of…it’s easy enough to forget about the why in pursuit of the what.

Case in point: I’ve been trying for a few years to get better at sketchnoting. In a time when I was finding classes and even books I read to be less and less interesting, taking up sketchnoting (and later sketching) revitalized my interest.

Not only that, it began to attract attention from others. Fellow class attendees and even teachers would enjoy looking at my sketchnotes, and I ended up even getting paid for them occasionally!

That was, of course, the death knell.

Profit Interrupts Pleasure

It’s a well-known phenomenon in Behavioral Economics; people will work their asses off for free, but will be offended if you offer them money for it. Even something that you really like doing becomes “work” if we attach a monetary value to it.

And that’s what happened to my sketchnoting. I stopped doing it for fun; any time I pulled out the paper and pens (or booted up the program on my iPad Pro, which I’d bought specifically for sketchnoting) my mind went into production mode:

Who’s going to buy this? What is your audience looking for? What have other sketchnotists done that is better than you? Where are your weaknesses? Where do you need to build skill? Is this going to work well as a PDF? Will your audience be able to read this clearly? Shouldn’t you be recording this real time, like those neat whiteboard cartoons? Who are you to be drawing anyway? You have a degree in Dance, for gossakes…

Notice how quickly that went into “Impostor Syndrome”? That’s part of the way that love as work loses its appeal. We have, in our culture, this funny word called “professional” which often holds the connotation of expertise, ethics, experience, and training beyond the “amateur” level.

In reality, of course, there’s only one real criteria for “professional”, and that’s whether or not someone’s willing to pay for your work.

Supposedly that’s tied into the idea that they wouldn’t be willing to pay you unless you had all those other things like expertise, etc., but the truth – which I’ve both seen and acted on myself, more than once – is that the people who get paid are not the ones who wait until people think their work is worth paying for.

No, the people who get paid are the ones who have learned the audacious art of asking for money.

Pay Yourself in Joy

I’m not saying that you should pay yourself in order to try and rediscover some of the joys of that thing you love. But perhaps (and I say perhaps because this falls square in the category of “I’m trying to figure this out) it can be treated like a bonus. If you have fallen into the briar patch of doing what you love for work (even if it’s not your primary source of income) then it would be a good idea to remind yourself of why you loved this art in the first place.

Me, I’m going to pick some ratio – 4:1, maybe – and try to make sure that for every four – hours? sketches? sessions? – that I do that are “productive” I have one that is simply for pleasure. It still isn’t really authentic joy – any more than enforced “break time” at a job is “free time” – but it’s a step in the right direction.

My purpose in the “pleasure sessions” (ok, maybe I need to find a better term…) will be not to produce something that I can show off or sell – rather, it will be to practice mindfulness, see how it feels to draw and letter and reformat information through the filter of my mind. To notice where the moments of joy happen, so that rather than optimizing for productivity I can optimize for my own enjoyment.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the quality of the drawings will be better when they are filled with an authentic appreciation of what I’m doing, rather than a forced push through to some marketable product.

We’ll see. Meanwhile, do you have a better idea? How does someone who has found that what they did for fun but now do for money keep the joy in what they love? I’d love to hear in the comments – or if you know someone who has faced that challenge, forward them this article and see what they think!

How to Like It More By Doing It Less

It’s kind of scary how many of my posts begin with this phrase…

I have a friend, who…

But I do have a lot of friends, and I enjoy both interacting with them and observing them as they deal with the various challenges of life. It’s that old idea that everybody can either show you how to do something better…or show you how to avoid making things worse.

This particular friend is the former – making things better for herself, and (by example) for others who have the same problem she does:

Too-Much-Itis

For some, it’s too much consumption of things that are unhealthy. For others, it’s too much keeping of things they don’t need. Some have the TooMuchitis of buying, or watching TV, or the ever-present Social Media. But this friend in particular (along with, now that I think of it, a large percentage of the rest of my friends) has the variety of TooMuchitis in terms of doing.

That is to say: she does a lot. And on any given day, in addition to the things that she already wants to do, she will often find new things she wants to do. Thanks to the illusion of Google Calendar it looks like we can subdivide and rearrange our hours in the day with absolute precision; however, as she (and many others) find to their frustration, reality isn’t shaped like that.

Yet. There may come a time when you put an event on your calendar and there’s a pop up that says “Sorry, you won’t have enough energy for that. Maybe schedule a nap instead?”

Until that happy (and scary) day, though, she has to deal with the case of TooMuchitis in a different way.

Sometimes You Have to Give Something Up

Believe me, I know, it’s hard. This blog in particular is something that I’ve considered giving up more than once – and there’s still a voice that tells me I should. More than once I’ve sat down with a blank sheet of paper and a pen, determined to finally focus and “kill my darlings” and give up on some of the things so that I can do some of the other things better. In fact, I even enlisted the help of my Mastermind partner one week, and she asked me, every day, what can you give up today to make other things better?

The answer, day after day, was nothing. It’s a problem, I tell you, the malady of DoingTooMuchitis.

Back to my friend, though. She was smarter than me, and found a way to change the drudgery that was creeping in on one of her projects (anatomical embroidery, believe it or not). She had found that in her desire to do it “more, better” she’d started thinking of it as a business…and that meant that the joy got sucked right out of it. It’s a common refrain from the “follow your passion” crowd, but she figured out how to beat it.

What she does is limit her access to it. Rather than making it a daily habit, or creating an easy environment for it, she makes it a special occasion. The act of taking things out, of setting aside the tools and making the space and prioritizing the time lends a sacred kind of joy to the ritual. And by doing it less often, she gives herself the opportunity to miss it.

It’s not quite scarcity – because she knows that there will come a time when she can take out these projects and work on them. “Though it be not now, yet it will be. Which not only increases the joy of the doing, but also leaves space for the doing of the other stuff.

Which, like all of us, she still has too much of. One step at a time, though, right?

If you liked this post, how about clicking that sweet little heart down below and maybe sharing it with friends? Do you suffer from DoingTooMuchitis? Tell us about your symptoms in the comments.

Beware the Lovekillers!

Learning to avoid the things that steal your joy

I was researching podcasting options as I begin to re-launch the Love Life Practice Weekly Roundup on my Patreon page. Specifically I was looking for cheap ways to host the podcast, and one article in particular had a clever hook: “Can you podcast for free? Yes. Should you? No. Actually let me rephrase that. HELL NO. But if you must…while you’re at it buy a gun and shoot yourself in the foot.

As you might gather, the author had some pretty strong opinions about the subject. But what I appreciated was his candor about offering solutions, as well. He recommended a shift of perspective by learning to identify “podcast killers”:

“…the next time you spend money on something you want instead of something you need, remind yourself that this specific purchase cost me my web hosting, or 20% of a new microphone.”

I like that idea. I like that idea a lot. It’s kind of a way to gamify your life, where suddenly the world is filled with little things that are trying to attack your podcast. There’s a coffee! Zap! Instead I’ll pay for half a month of Libsyn hosting, ha HA! Oh, no, my friends want to go to a movie! That’s one quarter of a Yeti microphone! I need you, Netflix, you’re my only hope.

What About Love?

What if, instead of podcasting, we took that attitude about love? What are the things in your life that kill the compassion, that delete the joy, that sour the sweetness? For me, it’s usually the Washington Post showing up in my email. But when I look around, there are other things:

  • This is the donut is the energykiller
  • This social media app is the productivitykiller
  • This “one-click” purchase button is the moneykiller

Ah, but those are easy. Let’s get metaphysical:

  • This self-doubt is the motivationkiller
  • This self-criticism is the identitykiller
  • This fear of being left out of the crowd manifesting as a criticism of someone else in the hopes people will overlook my faults and focus on the object of my scorn…

…is the lovekiller.

Instead of figuring out how to add more love to our lives (whatever that looks like), maybe – and I’m not saying this is true for everyone, but for some of us, it’s gotta be – we can just get rid of some of the things that are keeping the joy that’s already there hidden from us.

Maybe. Worth a try?

How to Be a Superhero Ninja of Joy

There’s an important reason that I didn’t talk about tolerations (gosh-durn-it, I still like “micro-annoyances” better) being applied to people. There’s a couple of reasons for that: one is that something that seems endearing one moment may seem unbearingly irritating the next, and even further down the road may seem wistfully nostalgic (especially if the person or relationship is gone).

The other reason is simply because hinging your own happiness or peace of mind on the behaviors or habits of others is not a very efficient way to manage your moods. It’s much more practical to focus on things that you have control over: your actions and your responses. Notice I did not say “your feelings” or “your reactions”. No matter how much you work at it, your neurochemistry is faster than your conscious thought. We’d like to think the sequence of events is Something happens – Decide how to react – React but it’s actually more like Something happens – React – Rationalize and justify the reaction.

I know, it’s annoying. But it’s also science.

On the other hand, we can be pro-active about it. We can decide that we’re going to create little bubbles of joy in other people’s lives. Random acts of kindness – holding the door for someone with their hands full, smiling non-aggressively, moving over to let someone pass you. Yes, yes, the big things are good too – donating to charity, writing a recommendation, endowing a scholarship.

But those are typical things. What if instead of being typical, you were a kindness superhero? Where you identified places where tolerations might be sneaking up on people and then find ways to zap them away? One of my favorites – instigated by my stashbelt, in fact – is to leave a bigger-than-usual tip for someone in the service industry.

http://charlieface.deviantart.com/art/Love-ninja-61592582

courtesy CharlieFace via DeviantArt

What’s the Ninja Got to Do With It?

I recommend that whatever acts of joy you commit you do in stealth mode. Why? Much like the reasons I mentioned above: if you’re doing things to elicit a specific reaction from someone else, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Think of the perfect act of joy being the one that the person never actually realizes happened – you made their life so much better that they never even knew it could go wrong. Truly skilled you are, Jedi of Love!

The other reason is because you get the benefit of your intent. If something doesn’t work out then if someone knows what you’re trying they may be disappointed. On the other hand, you know that you had that intention – and that in itself can make you feel pretty gosh-darned good.

I hope you go into this weekend with an eye for opportunities for being a Superhero Ninja of Joy. Because tolerations are out there everywhere, just waiting to pounce – and that’s intolerable.

 

Pruning the Loveless

I promised a while back that I wasn’t going to keep harping on about the whole Do what you love philosophy, and I’m not – really. I confess, though, I still like reading about it. A lot! Everytime I come across some article about “following your passion” – whether in favor of it or against it – I devour it, whether with an eagerly nodding head or a skeptical tsk-tsk, they’ll learn attitude.

That’s why I don’t write about it any more; nobody wants to hear some pedantic nitwit talking about that kind of stuff.

I say this just to reassure you: this is NOT going to be another one of Those Posts. Also, I owe you an apology; at some point I failed to actually record the URL of the article that contained the technique that I’m about to discuss. So I can’t forward you on to the article, but I guess that’s ok, because if I did that I might seem like I was urging people to follow their passion.

And I said I wouldn’t do that.

Don’t Let In What You Don’t Love

The article was talking about how difficult it can be to figure out what it is you love, because you can love different things at different times, and what does “love” mean, anyway? How do you know that what you love is going to love you back?

The idea of trying out things until you figure out what you love is not very efficient. Just go with the numbers – the time required to think of something, try it out for a while, evaluate it – it just kind of seems ridiculous, given the number of things you could do. That’s the price of civilization and a more mobile class structure; in the good old days a person knew their place, after all, and were likely born into their occupation as well. None of this “multipotentiality” stuff!

Instead, the author (and believe me, it’s killing me that I didn’t bookmark this article!) suggested that instead, we simply choose to only do the things that we want to do. That bring us joy. Now, before you go into a whole list of reasons why that’s not practical, let me just acknowledge that as a discussion that is truly interesting and worthwhile and can we please have it another time? Preferably with some cigars and whiskey and maybe some classic jazz vocalists in the background?

Because that’s not where my mind went when I read the article. No, he said the word “joy” and my mind instantly shifted into “KonMari” mode, because the phrase “spark of joy” has become the mantra for at least a week here at the Dance of Smoke and Ash (what Natasha and I fondly call our apartment). We’re almost done with Marie Kondo’s methodology, and everything we touch is rated on the “spark of joy” scale. Does it give it to us? Or not?

As it turns out, this becomes a good way to keep from acquiring more clutter, as well, which I found out as I put my “love powers” to work at a thrift shop. Natasha and I were there looking for a couple things – a small table to put next to my writing chair, and possibly some tapers for candles we were keeping.

Now, as GoT fans, we could probably get behind these...

Now, as GoT fans, we could probably get behind these…

No luck on the table, but she did find some small glass star-shaped tapers. My first reaction was relief – something we needed had been acquired! The more I looked at them, though, the less happy I felt. The star-shapes had a kind of ’70’s teenage-girl’s-room feeling to them, and it just didn’t match with the feeling that I wanted to create with the planned candlelit dinners. That’s when it hit me: I didn’t love them. They didn’t bring me a “spark of joy” – nor did Natasha seem terribly attached (I freely admit that there are things that I have no attachment to but that bring a happy smile to her face. Call it the Commutative Spark Principle).

So why would I let it into my life? This was what that article was talking about: don’t let things in that you don’t love.

We put the tapers back for someone else to love. We can wait a while, until we find something else we actually love.

the practice of joy is hard

“Shared joy is increased…” – Spider Robinson

In some recent travels my co-presenter and I were discussing the idea of joy and misery. She remarked that there were times that the misery in the world seemed overwhelming because there was so much of it.

“But isn’t the world also filled with joy?” I countered. “Even in the most miserable conditions humans manage to find moments of joy, laughter, connection…that’s been proven time and again.” I’m a big fan of Maslow, as you might expect.

She nodded, but then shook her head. “I know. Maybe it’s just that I’m more sensitive to the misery…it’s just so much more noticeable than the joy.” It reminded me of my undergrad, when I was trying to create pieces about happiness and positive emotions in the midst of a cohort of angst-and-anger-filled dance students.

My professor at one point chastised me, saying that in order to make meaningful work I needed to stop chasing fluffy clouds. “Happiness is overrated!” he declared.

“Oh yeah?” I challenged. “Well, misery is easy!”

Something Happened

Of course, from a zen perspective neither joy nor misery are anything but the added layers of meaning we put onto things that happen. If I stub my toe in the night, is it because I was a clumsy idiot? Or because my partner thoughtlessly moved the table? Or because I’m starting to lose my eyesight, as indicated by my lack of vision in twilight?

It actually doesn’t mean any of those things – it simply means that the table met my toe at a moment in time. Everything else is a meaning that I give it, and even if it turns out that I am going blind, that is also simply a thing.

What that implies is that we do, technically, have the ability to remove the filter of misery from things that happen. I stub my toe, I say “OW!”, and that’s that. My toe and the table don’t benefit from worry, from blame, or made up stories.

But it’s hard to get out of the habit of dwelling on the misery, especially as you work to develop a practice of awareness. My co-presenter quoted a feminist slogan for me: “The Truth will set you free – but first it will piss you off.” The more you pay attention, the more awful and injust and downright bad the world can seem.

Practicing the Joy Filter

Plus, it’s entertaining. People want to hear about other people’s misery, hence the rise of journalism, reality TV, soap operas, epic fantasy, and the blues. We are surrounded by a miasma of portrayals of misery combined with marketing designed to convince us that we are also miserable – until we get that new phone, that new watch, that new thingummy.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t practice, once in a while, the joy filter. You don’t have to get all polly-anna-ish and declare only the good things. I think it can be more subtle than that. I think it has to be more subtle than that. One technique I’ve heard of, for example, is the practice of ending each day by writing down three things you’re grateful for. Supposedly that practice will change, gradually, your perspective on life.

It sounds worth it to me. Personally, I am currently in a place in my life where I’m more happy and fulfilled than I ever could have imagined. I look at my life just a few years before and wonder “What the heck was that guy thinking?”” Part of why I’m feeling so good these days, though, is because I was lucky enough to have the free time to really study how to be happy, and try to make it work.

Most people don’t have that luck. And yet even knowing this, I still sometimes fall into my old habits. If someone says “How’s it goin’, Gray?” my first reaction is to say something like I’m so busy! or Tryin’ to pay bills! or Overworked and underpaid!

Why is it so hard to just tell the truth: I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life, and it’s because of the people and work and play in it?

It’s because I’m out of practice doing that. So I try, in small steps. Sometimes when I’m heading off to some exotic locale (such as Piscataway, NJ, where I’m returning from as I write this) I hear someone make some comment like “Gee, rough life, eh, Gray?

I used to respond quite angrily to this: “I worked hard to get where I am! I have a right to what I’ve accomplished, and if you wanted it, you would do it too!” Thankfully I got over that, mostly, but then I would often respond with some long, drawn-out explanation of why this life is not actually glamorous, of the many pains and sacrifices and frustrations that come from self-employment.

But that’s not really helping either. I mean, if they look at my life and have an inaccurate idea of what it’s like, so what? By trying to correct their impression I’m just taking away from a happy thought.

So my conscious practice now is, when I hear someone say that, to respond with “Yes! I am a very fortunate man!” In my head this is said with cheerful smiles and a merry tone. In reality, according to at least two of my friends who heard me say it this past weekend, I’m still sounding grumpy and maybe even a bit whiny when I say it.

That’s ok. The practice of “fake it til you make it” is a time-honored method of habit change. It is a wonderful thing to remind myself that I have a great life.

After all, if you don’t notice the good around you, there’s no way you’re going to enjoy it. And wouldn’t that just be a shame?

why procrastinate joy?

Gotta Have a Reeses

If there’s one thing I miss in the world of advertising, it’s the good old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials. They would create absurdly complex scenarios whereby someone’s chocolate would end up in someone else’s peanut butter, for a happy union of seemingly disparate elements.

They were hilarious.

And it was something like that which led to this entry. I was skimming through my newsfeed and came across an article called Jump-Start Your Productivity with the “Path of Highest Enjoyment”Highest enjoyment? I thought. Sounds like fun!

It wasn’t, really. It was basically saying that you should look at your task list for the day and do the things you want to do first. As if most of us don’t already do that? Maybe it’s just me. So, back to reading articles.

The Science Behind Why We Procrastinate.” Aha! Procrastination, always a bugaboo of mine. In fact, my stepmother insisted I memorize a little poem about it:

Procrastination is my sin,
It brings me endless sorrow.
I really must stop doing it.
In fact – I’ll stop.
Tomorrow.

I can’t say that the poem helped me any, but the article had some interesting insights. Among other things, it explained that there were two kinds of procrastinators: those who couldn’t make up their minds what to do, and those who knew exactly what to do, but couldn’t bring themselves to take action.

And suddenly the joy got stuck in the procrastination, and I had an epiphany!

Procrastinate Whatever, But Why Procrastinate Joy?

Why Procrastinate Joy?

Gray’s Law: Never forego until tomorrow that which you can enjoy today.

It’s a simple idea, really: we know what we want. With all the personal-development blogs out there, it’s not too hard to figure out how to get it. In fact, if you’re reading this blog, you have more control over your life and your path than most other people throughout history. And you’ve got more information to guide you on that path, as well, at your fingertips – heck, in your phonePeople have been killed for wanting access to just the bible; you have access to, like, a zillion times more information on how to find your joy.

And instead, if you’re like me, you spend a lot of time shooting little birds out of slingshots at snuffling pigs.

That’s ok. It’s totally better than a lot of other habits people have used to calm their mind. But, at a certain point after the last pig has gone *poof*, maybe it’s worth asking: what is it that makes you procrastinate your joy?

I’ve got some guesses:

  1. “We’re not worthy!” – You haven’t earned the right to your joy yet. It’ll come when you retire, when you’ve lost those pounds, when you’ve made the world secure for your children.
  2. “It’s not realistic!” – Sure, other people can be happy. Other people have accomplished or acquired or benefited from that thing you want. But that’s them. What are you, some kind of special snowflake?
  3. “It’s too hard.” – Sure, we could be happy. But that requires change, and change requires work, and I’m tired. It’s much easier to just watch another episode.
  4. “It’s too scary.” – Somebody told me that even if I get what I want, it probably won’t be as good as I think. In fact, it might even be worse than what I have now! Why risk change?

Now is where most personal-development blogs would tackle each of those reasons and demolish them with rational, step-by-step logic. But we’re more practical here at Love Life Practice, and besides, we have faith in the intellect of our readers.

Whichever of those reasons applies to you – or whichever reason you thought of that I didn’t think of – you know it’s bullshit. You know, when you look in the mirror, that there’s a part of you whispering: Put off whatever you want, my friend, but why procrastinate joy?

The question is: when are you going to do something about it?

Tomorrow?