Friday, September 27, 2019

Friday Feature: Recapturing Joy with Just One Word

Every once in a while, I read something that sticks with me so much that I find myself citing it and recommending it to others. This week's article is one of those pieces.

I started reading the book Joyful long before the semester began. When my teaching/writing responsibilities edged reading out of my schedule, I continued to chip away it nevertheless, alternating between reading the book and listening to it on Audible. A mix of research and stories, Joyful is a fun read because of its topic, and, as an added bonus, author Ingrid Fetell Lee has exactly the voice one would expect from someone who writes about joy.

So, earlier this week, when an email landed in my inbox with the subject line "One word that leads to a more joyful life," I was intrigued. And, upon learning the word, I was surprised.

The word is no.

In a warm, wonderful piece laced with personal connections, Lee lays out the case for putting ourselves and our priorities first. While the oft-repeated theme that every yes to one thing is a no to something else runs through the article, there is also a connection to our personal joy that makes the piece one I want to sit down and savor, rather than rushing through it as I had to the first time I read it.

Regular readers may remember my declaration of the Year of No way back in December 2017, something that came immediately to my mind when I read Lee's piece. While most of my no's were small ones, reclaiming an hour here or fifteen minutes there, they gave me practice for a new behavior, one that replaced the automatic "yes" that shoved me out of my own schedule as I shoe-horned everyone else in. As with any other habit, this one required practice to become ingrained, especially when I knew the no that was so necessary to me constituted a disappointment to someone else.

Lee's article was another reminder of the importance of this seemingly small act, reinvigorating my determination to protect my time, whether by creating a schedule and sticking to it or by saying no to the things there simply aren't room for, or that I just don't want to do in the first place.

While it's sometimes unavoidable to say yes when we want to say no, if we learn to factor our needs into the equation, we'll minimize the number of times we find ourselves in this position. And who knows? We might even find time for the things we want to do that don't seem to make it into the schedule.

Like, say, reading an entire book.

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