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The killer of joy

The killer of joy

Note – this post was actually written for the most part on Monday, May 1, 2017.  Then I chickened out, then procrastinated, then chickened out again.  This morning I woke up at 6:00 am knowing that this was it, today was the day.  Honestly I’m not sure what I have been afraid of other than it is difficult to be open and vulnerable.

Yesterday (April 30) was a big day for me. I reached out to some women that I know but not incredibly well, and invited them to my house for an If:Table group. This probably wouldn’t be a big deal for most, but hospitality is not something that I have ever thought of myself as being gifted with. I don’t normally cook for people. I like to cook and I think it’s something I’m actually pretty good at, but I have that fear of being judged. People’s tastes are incredibly different and I can take things very personally. (side note – I also started an online Bible study group that will officially be starting next week. I will just be facilitating and getting things started but these are all steps of faith for me, just following where I feel God is leading even though I don’t see the whole path.)  Back to the in-person group at my house.  So yesterday at our group one person ended up not being able to make it so it was me and three other women. It was slightly awkward at first but I think we quickly found that we can be honest with each other because that is the entire goal – to be open and honest and figure out who we are and how we feel about Jesus – no judgement.  I think it’s going to be a very exciting time! However there’s a couple of things that I think lead to me making the decision to step out in faith and lead this group and those epiphanies are just as exciting! More about that in a moment.

Here’s a quick look at hospitality.  I’ve never felt like it’s my thing, but when I really look at the definition it seems pretty simple!

hospitality

  1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
  2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.
I like people and consider myself to be friendly, so that should be easy enough.  But here’s where it gets tricky.  I mentioned in a previous post that I had recently gone to Florida. I went with my best friend and her son and my two boys and we stayed with a friend/former coworker and her husband at their home. I know a lot of people stay with friends and family so that wouldn’t be a big deal, but I am not those people! I do not even stay with family. I stay at home or at a hotel.  This trip came about because my friend and I were looking to get away with the kids but we needed to watch our budget because we both just quit our jobs. We were planning to go somewhere closer to home and stay but when our friend offered to host us it seemed like a great opportunity to catch up with them and save some money! (And be able to check out the beach.) My friend and I were both pretty nervous about staying there, not really knowing what we were supposed to do or what it would feel like. To be honest, it was a little awkward at first, but not nearly as uncomfortable as I had thought it would be. Our hosts were wonderful and encouraged us to make ourselves at home. One of the big lessons it taught me is that the most important part of hospitality is the the people aspect. Their house was not perfect. It was bigger than mine, newer than mine, but it wasn’t a show home. And they didn’t apologize for that. It was a normal family home, lived in and loved in and warm and welcoming. What’s better than that? I have always been so self-conscious about virtually everything and the older I get I realize that most of it is really inconsequential. We need new siding on our house. We have weeds in our driveway. Dust is a dear friend of mine. But there are some things that I love about my house. It is next-door to my mom and we are able to see each other often. It is in town and close to every place that I might need or want to get to quickly. My kids have all been raised there. If we can fit six kids and us in the house do we really need a bigger house now that we only have two at home? Probably not. The fact that we don’t have a big house was part of the reason that I was able to leave my full-time job and work very part time building our dreams!

Comparisions – ugh!

When we first came back from Florida I went out into our backyard and noticed that a couple of our daffodils had bloomed! They were yellow and beautiful and I was so excited to see these first signs of spring. Later in the day, I went walking and noticed that our neighbor had about 50 blooms – bigger and brighter and prettier – and immediately I felt bad about my poor little flowers.  Why?! If they made me happy before and they were beautiful before why did I get sad just because somebody else’s was bigger? Why do I always have to compare myself to everybody else? Why if I go walk for an hour and then I hear about somebody else that went running why do I feel bad about myself when I just felt good about myself? Why does everything feel like a competition? I am hopeful that the awareness of this and how common it is in my everyday life will move me toward contentment and aware from comparison.
My neighbor’s daffodils
My daffofils

Disappointment

I appreciate how happy and just good I feel overall, especially considering that yesterday was a big day for another reason. Yesterday I lost a free trip to Puerto Vallarta that I have worked toward for a year. All it took was consistent effort – totally manageable, totally doable for anyone who is willing to do the work. And for the first ten months I did the work. And then I stopped. I let a lot of other things come up and take priority. Instead of continuing to put in literally 15 to 60 minutes a day it would’ve taken to stay qualified I chose to do nothing. I’m not sure why other then I do have a tendency to get sidetracked and focus on one big thing at a time. I’m not sure exactly why, but it happened.  And here’s what I do know. It’s OK. Am I disappointed? Yes. I’m disappointed in myself but I am also proud of myself because I realize that it’s all on me. And just being able to feel bad and accept that responsibility honestly feels good. There are so many things that are out of my control but the things that I truly am responsible for?  Those I can fix, those I can work on. There are things that I have let slide that I should not have. There are things that I should have followed up on that I didn’t. And for that I’m truly sorry. There’s nothing to be done but learn and move forward.
If there are areas where you are struggling, take the time to figure out what you need to do, or not do, to move forward.  Recognize all of the great things you are doing and don’t be so hard on yourself!  If a close friend made a mistake here and there would you constantly berate them for it?  Hopefully not!  But we do it to ourselves all the time and we need to stop and be kinder, more loving. Do you find yourself making comparisons often, and if so, how does that impact you?
Mindset matters!

Mindset matters!

You know sometimes when you go to church or you hear a particular message and you think ‘oh my gosh, they’re talking right to me?’ That’s what happened to me on Saturday.  I attended an all day training that was absolutely amazing. I took 68 pages of notes. Granted, my writing is kind of big and my notebook is about 5 x 8, but still that’s a lot of notes! I’m sharing this because I feel I that it applies to every area of my life and maybe can benefit you as well. A good portion of this is material that I have heard before, and maybe you have too. If so there is a reason – because it’s right/good/something worth remembering. Repetition is our friend!

Mindset (from the training of Puya Ghandian)

There’s no point in planting a seed if you’ve got dirty soil. If your mindset is not where it needs to be then you’re not going to have the results that you want.

Puya’s journey into personal development started at age 17 when he was working as a bagger at a grocery store and a woman gave him a copy of the book The Slight Edge as his tip. (Side note – if you haven’t read this book, please take the time to do so! It’s a common sense approach to how to make every area of your life work better.)

A………………..B  When getting from point A to point B, the gap in between is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics. Are you being your number one cheerleader or your number one critic? You also have to have focus and clarity. You have to know where you are and you have to know where you were going. Similar to a GPS you can’t just know that you want to go somewhere vague and expect to get there. You’re also not going to successfully arrive if you don’t know where you’re starting from.

Set SMART goals. How many times have you heard that one? Yeah, me too. Now how many SMART goals do you really have, right now, written down? None? Yeah me too.  I have some vague ideas in my head and a few goals written on scraps of paper, but nothing that I refer to daily. There is also something to be said for reading your goals aloud on a daily basis.  Some people use different words to describe them, but the overall meaning is the same:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-sensitive

When your mindset becomes congruent with where you want to go that’s when success happens. Where focus goes energy flows. How many times have you thought that you lack confidence or are disorganized or procrastinate? Would you agree that that is not always the case? So maybe 95% of the time those things apply to you? If so, focus on the 5% of the time that they don’t.  Reinforcing the negative thoughts in your head keeps them real.  If I constantly think that I’m a failure or I can’t lose weight, I’m right and will continue to be fail and be fat!  It has been said that we have 90,000 thoughts per day and 60,000 of those are repeats from the day before (Puya quoting Jenni Byrd-Grier).  What we tell ourselves matters.

The importance of language – I actually read this somewhere fairly recently and started trying it myself. It is funny how just a simple tweak in the word you use, even when you’re talking to yourself, can make a difference. Like using “have to” versus “get to”. For example, “I have to go to grocery store.”  That makes it feel like an obligation, but if you really stop and think about it aren’t you grateful that you have access to food? And that you have the money to buy it? The same applies to, “I always have to pick up after my family.”  there are many people who would love to have a family to care for, and things that need picking up. I know that we’re all going to have days and moments where it’s frustrating and feels like there’s a lot of things that we HAVE to do. But really, don’t you have a choice in just about everything you do? You may not like the consequences of not doing something, but you still have a choice. Focusing on why you “have to” do something can help bring you back to an attitude of gratitude. The same can apply to words in many different situations. Such as someone asking how your day is going or how you are. There is a different emotion that is evoked when you say, “good” versus “outstanding”.

How you do the how’s – one of the things that the author of The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson, always says is, “It’s not the hows, it’s how you do the hows.”  I never really understood that and actually thought it had something to do with the system or approach or tool you were using. The “how you do the hows” refers to your mindset while you are doing whatever you are doing.  Maybe that was clear to you from the beginning but that was a big a-ha for me. Thanks to Puya for making it more clear to me.

A positive spin on a negative world

What it boils down to is we live in a negative world and we are hard-wired to focus on  what is negative more than what is positive.  But that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless! Just like someone with a predisposition to heart disease or alcoholism can take steps to avoid or lessen their own health issues, we can take steps to combat negativity.

  • Surround yourself with people who want to be happy.  That may seem like a no-brainer; doesn’t everyone want to be happy?  In my experience, no.  Some people thrive on negativity and that’s okay I guess – for them, not for me.  Yes, bad things happen.  A lot of it I don’t understand.  I do however have faith that even when something feels so wrong, there is a greater plan and something positive can come out of every situation.
  • Start with gratitude.  Even in the worst of circumstances, look for even the smallest thing to be thankful for. Right now my husband has a cough left over from a bout of illness.  We’ve been to the doctor, he is fine, he just has this lingering cough.  And it’s annoying!  The selfish part of me focuses on the fact that it’s annoying to hear, the loving wife part of me knows that it’s worse for him and feels bad.  The grateful part of me is thankful that he was sick but now is better overall and that we have the ability to get him checked out when we have concerns.
  • Spend at least 10 minutes per day (ideally more) reading or listening to some sort of personal development. Reading just 10 pages of a good book per day can lead to 12+ books read per year!  I love fiction too, but the time I spend on personal development is having a much bigger impact on my life.  And when I find myself getting down or lacking focus, I can almost always trace it back to slacking in this area.  Find a podcast or YouTube video and play it while you are getting ready in the morning or when making dinner or when driving. I like the Live Happy podcast.  Today I am also listening to Mel Robbins – she is very real and down to earth.

Today I will write down 3 SMART goals. I plan to read them out loud daily.

What is just one small thing you can start doing, TODAY, that will improve your outlook and life?