What Steals Your Joy, Happiness, or Contentment?

Recently, I realized that “Tolerating” is stealing my happiness, and I can’t wait to share how I’m tackling that!

If you have worked with me, then you have heard me say, “I’m allergic to housework”. I’m pretty sure I was born wired this way!  Growing up, my parents finally gave up on me cleaning my bedroom; however, when my clutter creep happened in another part of the house, my dad would amusingly tell me, “Take that pile into your room. This is not your north bedroom!” 

Many well meaning friends and family have said, “If you just clean up your kitchen/bedroom/bathroom, it will feel soooo good!” They are absolutely right; yet, after muscling through each big project, the clutter creep always starts again!  I realized that I don’t really care when the room is a little messy because it is easy for me to tolerate it, until the mess feels overwhelming. I’ve even tried implementing numerous time management hacks, like chunking down the chore, setting a timer for 15 minutes, and making it more fun with music or talking to my sister, but none have turned into a long standing habit… 

So I decided to tackle growing my joy instead of growing my housekeeping skills.

Wait, Sherrie, are you saying I can grow my joy!?  Do tell ????

Good news, bad news about the brain. We have a physical structure called the trusty amygdala that looks for danger EVERYWHERE, but no physical structure to take in the good. Psychologist Rick Hanson describes the brain as velcro for the bad, and teflon for the good. Don’t fret, more good news is that we CAN train our brain to look for the good. 

Here’s how to make joy, happiness, contentment, or any pleasant emotion stick: When you notice a pleasant emotion, stop and soak it in for at least 15 seconds, which is how long it takes our brain to notice the good. The longer you stay with the pleasant emotion, the bigger you are growing a new neural pathway in your beautiful brain. Take a minute or two and savor the emotion – where do you feel it in your body? Breath in the good and, like adding sticks to a fire, ask yourself what else feels good about that emotion? 

Here is how I made it work for me: I would take 15 minutes and tidy the kitchen (using my time management tool of “chunk down” the task I don’t like ????); then, as I looked around, I found the tiny amount of joy I did feel about how it looked, added the sticks to that fire of being proud of myself for doing this experiment, and felt excited to keep doing it. 

Growing the joy of having a tidy space is the Claritin to my housework allergy!

I do find it easier to do chores today, I’m less grumpy about it, and always excited to grow my joy in doing it!  

Over time, as you grow these positive neural pathways, your brain naturally notices and feels the GOOD in your life. You organically become more optimistic, joyful, content and happy! Next I’ll tackle finding the joy in exercise!  

Where will you practice taking in the good and making happiness stick?

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