“Death is very likely the single best invention of life” Steve Jobs said.
To me it seems clear that the only duty we have in this lifetime is to find what sparks joy in our hearts and focus on where we can find these little joys until all misery magically disappears taking with it the tasks we find painful.
Does this all sound too good to be true? Maybe.
But maybe, if we do the things we’re great at that bring us joy and lead to mastery, then we attract people who can handle all the stuff we’re terrible at. Because believe it or not there are people who actually enjoy cleaning, decluttering, balancing the books, tinkering with computers and other stuff that I find painful.
The people who do “dull tasks” with joy would want to be around us because like them, we tend to the needs of our inner genius.
Marie Kondo would be proud of this way at looking at life. She is the declutterer (she loves to clean! Can you believe it?) who advocates focusing on keeping only the items that spark joy. She says once you focus on the few items that you want to keep, it’s easy to chuck out the rest. Can we do this with the most precious resource we have, our time?
One way to begin would be to jot down where we’re spending minutes and hours of our day.
Are the tasks we’re doing truly bringing us joy and honouring our gifts? Or are we wasting time and avoiding developing gifts where we can excel simply because we don’t have the self-confidence to go out to the world and say “Hi, I’m Eda and I’m a fantastic writer”.
The fear of wasting my most precious resource, time (because we never know how much we’ve got and you get this sense when you attend a funeral), led me to documenting where I spend my time and blocking out time for social media as well as a plan so that what can be a time-wasting activity enables me to keep growing as a writer.
Also, I find that people don’t remember the shit we do begrudgingly. Yes, you may slave your life away driving your kids from one activity to another and make all their favourite dishes and cakes but they will never remember the shit that didn’t spark joy in you. The minute to you do something you’re passionate about that lights up your whole being, well then your glow spills over onto others and warms them up inside and people remember this feeling of being enveloped in your warmth.
I came to this realisation during one of those times I had an adult conversation with mum, not as mother and child but as person to person, human to human, heart to heart.
She asked me how I’d describe her as a person and I responded that I felt she was creative and had artistic ability. She was disappointed. Clearly she was expecting me to praise her for being a great mum because she’d always cook healthy food and put a meal on the table, never take-away, and then proceed to force feed us. I told her that I remembered the feedings as a painful time because up til the age of 7, I’d throw up the eggs she’d try to force feed me. I did not like eggs and she kept forcing me to have breakfast and it made both of us miserable and upset.
Recently at my partner’s grandmother’s funeral, I was also struck by the fact that people who are our nearest and dearest want to remember us for the times that our eyes sparkled with the joy in our hearts. Being a servant-martyr to duty, fulfilling the image of the perfect wife and getting three meals on the table, a spotless home may seem honourable but not if it’s sapping our life energy. If the duty is at the expense of being able to feel connected to our loved ones and feel the sparks of joy, then put down the mop and the broom and grab a cuppa and call a friend for a chat. Or stop watching the clock in your office and go out for a walk. Or chuck a sickie and spend some time in nature.
For my partner’s grandma, joy was going out and partying and spending time with Fijian friends she’d made. She began identifying with the islander way of life in her older years and she’s from a very different culture, an English-Irish Australian. The Fijian approach to life, celebration of mates, life and beauty sparked joy in her. The eulogies reflected this and the twinkles in the eyes of the speakers relived the joy in her heart when talking about her as a teenager getting into Sydney’s night life, enamoured by the Air Force officers, her love of life and spirit spilling into her older years and discovering new aspects of herself with her Fijian friends.
So today, take a look at what’s on your to-do list and if there are any writing tasks which give you great pains to do then give me a call and proceed to doing what sparks joy in you, where you can work with your strengths and build mastery for greater joy and income in your business.