Choose Joy Over Grumpiness?
After a lot of meetings with people all over the place and what felt like too many hours in the car on the road in June, I spent the 4th of July weekend withdrawing from people on purpose and painting our kitchen while my family went away. I may be on the extroverted side of the extrovert-introvert continuum, yet I felt completely peopled out. It was time to be home alone.
Yay! I loved day 1 by myself. Just me and my music playing: cleaning and preparing to paint. (p.s. have you noticed how paint preparation shows you how grimy everything really is?!) I was a cleaning and de-cluttering maniac.
In order to find the paint supplies I had to dig through and therefore partially organize a corner of the basement. Later, on a hunt for the folding sawhorses to hold my cupboard doors while priming and drying, next thing I knew I was hauling recycling and clearing out the garage as the next most important thing to do next.
On the evening of Day 1 I added some additional activity choices to my paint job: I jumped in our local State Park lake on the edge of Helena for a short, refreshing swim. On day 2, my back hurt and I began to question my choices about how I chose to spend my time.
I sat still to check on this: yep, it wasn’t a lot of fun, yet there was joy in having this uninterrupted time. On the morning of Day 2 I took a bike ride with my buddy Lisa. Refreshed, I went back home and re-focused on my paint job.
Do you buy the notion that “character” is mostly attitude and how you spend your time?
I buy it! And sometimes for better or worse (and sometimes bringing me a feeling of existential dread), how I spend my time does show me a laid-bare version of my priorities: what really matters to me. Okay, stay with me. If character may be summed up as a combination of your basic attitude and how you spend your time, then…isn’t character an expression of your most fundamental priorities as well? Read that again and tell me if that isn’t just quite the cool window into human existence.
So I’ll take a jump into the lake of my big picture priorities and say:
It’s Joy, Not So Much Duty That Creates Lasting Bonds and Peace Among Us
I like food, shelter and clothing as much as the next human. Yet right up there with food and shelter is joy. I just know it’s joy, not duty that creates lasting bonds. (Note: original source of this line is unknown to me…I know I read it somewhere credible! Perhaps in my now all-time favorite book on parenting by Jennifer Senior, All Joy and No Fun, but I am not completely sure.
Joy and peace for whom? Joy and peace for me, which may or may not spill over into more joy and peace for my family at home, and then, by extension, go on spilling into the big wide world, right?
Maybe Choose Joy over Grumpiness More Often?
Wow: choose joy more often than grumpiness? What great grist for self-observation that can lead to better self-management, which eventually leads to more joy, and more peace in the world.
The upshot: when I make it a priority to authentically listen and connect with myself, my family at home, my neighbors, my clients and coworkers at work, and my own far-flung communities of people I stay connected with, I feel a lot more joy.
Do you? What’s the real alternative to that way of being? In my own experience, I’ve noticed the main alternative to connecting is a certain absent, busy-ness, the “I have no time” mode. I’m grumpy, but it’s my duty to _________ (fill in the blank of your day…).
Links to Work Place Conflict and ‘Too Busy-Ness’
Chronic “too busy”mode spills into every environment we humans have created –from the gas station to our workplaces to the freeway and into our own kitchens. Yet we do have time for our priorities, right? One key may be to acknowledge what they are. How to know and acknowledge them? One good start is a simple observation of your attitude and how you spend your time. Yep, your priorities, my priorities. There they are.
As a follow up on my feedback binge post and because I’m working on continual development as workplace conflict mediator and professional coach here are a couple current, supplemental references for your reading pleasure:
1) Even though well-channeled conflict can be profoundly useful in many settings, this article from the New York Times, No Time to Be Nice at Work, describes how day-to-day conflict, grumpiness and wearing down of ‘civility’ in your work setting has tangible costs.
2) I take that and extend it to all the environments where we live, work and play of course. See Harvard Business Review for more details about the measured costs of mindless rudeness.
Here’s to more joy, at least a little bit, if not a lot, every day, for everyone. Even if it’s not always fun! And I know you’re curious. Did I finish the painting project? No. Not yet.