As we take on the habit of 5 minutes of pure joy a day in the Stress Less Habits Challenge, I wanted to talk about the flip side. It’s one thing to actively create joy in your life, but it’s also just as important to start to chip away at the things that KILL your joy. What are your killjoys?
It’s helpful to break this down into categories: things, activities, places and people. We’ll tackle people last because it can be a little bit trickier.
Okay, let’s Marie Kondo this sh*t. What doesn’t bring you joy? What things in your home, your car, your workplace… what doesn’t bring you joy? I can rattle off a few of my own: an overflowing compost bin, a box of random cables that I have no idea what they connect to, dirty laundry, broken tools and appliances, an almost empty coffee canister, anything that is overly expensive, when things aren’t put where they belong (I’m guilty of doing it myself, so I’m not calling out my family!). You get the point.
So make your own list – now you know what is killing your joy, but what is it about those things? Do you notice a theme in mine? I like some sort of external order, which is ironic as I often live in a messy house. When things are orderly and in their place I feel like I can rest, like there is calm even if my internal life is a little chaotic. If things are out of order and other people have caused it, it feels like they are purposefully adding to my chaos, even though that was unlikely their intention.
See… deep huh? You’ve got to understand what is about each of these things that sucks your joy.
Then… what can you do to limit these killjoys? Well, when I had the budget and COVID-19 wasn’t around, I had a cleaner come every two weeks and it brought be SO MUCH JOY. Now, my husband and I pick a day of the week where we each clean TOGETHER for an hour to get as much done as possible. That way we feel like there is some order at the same time, rather than things happening incrementally. Or I start to build new habits, or we talk about it.
What activities kill your joy? Some of mine include: doing my taxes, doing my bookkeeping, running errands, picking the wrong line at Costco, having too many books come up at once at the library so that I incur late fines, reading the news, too much time on social media, the rare occasion when my son cries at drop off, and when a recipe I’ve poured my heart and soul into doesn’t taste as good as I thought it did.
So WHY do those activities kill your joy? Yes, in the Things category I had a theme. Sometimes there will be a nice and neat theme, sometimes not so much. For me, activities kill my joy when I feel that they waste my time, aren’t aligned with my skill set or zone or genius, or when my expectations aren’t met. I also feel the joy is sucked out of me when I waste my own time, or when people I love are hurting in any way.
So, what do you do about them? Yes, I outsource my taxes and bookkeeping. It saves me a headache, doesn’t cost too much, and in fact saves me money in my tax refunds and in the time I’d have to take when I’d inevitably make errors. But I’m not made of cash, particularly at the moment, so those are pretty much the only things we outsource. Our family cleans our house, which definitely doesn’t bring joy either, but we try and make it fun.
Bringing joy to killjoys is a great strategy. I dislike grocery shopping, but I can listen to podcasts and audio books while I do it. I dislike cleaning, but same strategy in place.
You can also tie rewards to those killjoys. Once we meal plan for the week, THEN we get to watch a movie and drink a cocktail. Once I batch my social media content THEN I get to do a fun podcast interview.
Okay, we can’t all be on a beach vacation 24/7, so bearing that in mind, where are the places that kill your joy? For me it’s our laundry room where the cat litter is, it’s around the side of our house where I’m reminded of the paint chipped fence, it’s the parking lot at my Shopper’s Drug Mart which is SUPER busy and I feel like I’m always going to crash in, and it’s places that make me feel less than, for whatever reason.
WHY do those place kill my joy? Sometimes they represent a task I’ve yet to complete, a feeling of being incomplete, they’re simply not nice to look at or they add stress.
For many people their workplace kills their joy. So, what can you do about that? First, can you bring some joy to that space? Your favourite mug, a photo frame, some funky pens or something to brighten up your desk space? What about a little radio so you can play your own music or an iPod to bring something fun to the atmosphere?
Can you spend less time in certain places? Could you work from home a couple of days a week? Can I walk to the Shopper’s instead of parking in that wild parking lot?
We have to really break it down in order to problem solve.
I leave this one for last because it’s a big one. We all have people in our life who kill our joy. Certain coworkers, family members, friends that we’ve outgrown, political figures, etc.
I’m not sharing mine here, but outline who they are and what it is that sucks your joy when you spend time with them? Are they constantly complaining? Do they scare or intimidate you? Are your values completely misaligned? Do they remind you of a hard time in your life?
In some cases, yes, you can remove people from your life. But… and this is a big but, that’s not realistic most of the time. There are hard lines to be drawn for abuse and toxicity, but most of us have the ability to coexist without constantly being drained.
If you haven’t listened to my episode on boundaries, I’d go back and take a listen as that goes into detail on how to create solid boundaries with people so you’re not compromised.
A few other strategies include simply spending less time with those people, muting them or hiding them on social media while maintaining the tie if you’re nervous to make a statement, having the honest conversation using “I feel” language versus “I hate when you” language, etc.
So, have a hard think about the things, activities, places and people who kill your joy, understand the why behind the joy suck, and then make a plan for how you can either reduce the kill joy or bring more joy to it.
These incremental shifts see huge gains over time. And head on over to Instagram to share what kills your joy with me. You can do it in a post or you can DM me @stresslessladies to let me know how you’re finding the Stress Less Habits Challenge.