As another work week comes to a close I find myself thinking about the things that have made me happy this week. Last week I was home, enjoying time with friends and family I haven’t seen in 6 months, and feasting on a truly amazing early Thanksgiving spread. It was refreshing and grounding and all-around wonderful, leaving a pleasant glow in my belly and my heart.
While I have to credit a week of vacation at home for some of this week’s spots of joy, some of the good feelings were personally achieved and it’s those that I want to share.
“Cause I want it all, or nothing at all…”
While it might work for O- Town, I’ve realized this week how much joy I get from “just a bit”. It’s kind of counter-culture (at its most literal) these days to tout that just a bit of something can be better than mega, jumbo, ultra, super, extreme, buy-one-get-one-free, total overhaul, full immersion, and yet here I am, touting.
A couple of weeks ago I talked about Instant Gratification specifically about how pursuing it changes our brains, making it hard for us to keep up with our goals when they aren’t instantly achieved. My goal in that post was to bring awareness to areas in which we are sacrificing for instant pleasure, and encourage myself and others to seek satisfaction through healthy long-term progress and lasting connections.
I want to expand on that to say this: doing the thing itself adds joy. Whether you have a goal or not, doing just a little of something that you like or makes you feel good, is valuable. Taking a five minute walk makes you feel better than taking a zero minute walk because you really want to take an hour long walk… Putting on lipstick feels good, even if that’s all you put on. Ironing your shirt, making cookies, drawing a tiny sketch, the little things are important and good, in and of themselves. No lifestyle changes or big goals needed.
Tidiness has never been a strength of mine. I was getting better at keeping my bedroom free from clutter, my bathroom sink paraphernalia to a minimum, and my dishes all in the cupboard when I moved. To an apartment, with 300ft2 less space. Finding places for all the things I’ve accumulated is a huge challenge, especially since I can clearly tell that I will never find places for all the things I’ve accumulated. I’ve KonMari-ed my life before, and spent a week doing it, and I still didn’t finish. I dread doing it again.
I didn’t really come to a decision to do things differently, it just happened. I wanted more peace and beauty in my surroundings and instead of letting my brain take off and make that impossible, I just started doing it. The ‘50s metal side table that made me so happy when I brought it home and put my favorite pieces on it has been gathering dust. I’m still kind of surprised at how good it felt to clear it of clutter and dust. My little bedside space is really happy now! There are six things in my donation bag that weren’t there last week, and it made me feel lighter. After getting rid of bag after bag in one go, I didn’t know that the simple act of deciding not to spend another day looking at the dress that I never fit well enough to take the tags off of would make me feel so good.
Throughout the week there have been probably a dozen admittedly small things that I decided to do, without a grand goal or epic master plan, that made me happy and had lasting benefit.
This is honestly such a basic concept, and it almost seems silly to make an entire post about “the benefit of doing something tiny”. Aside from Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project, I haven’t heard anyone talk about doing little things that improve your life, without it being an incremental part of a larger plan.
I think that’s why it feels so good. I don’t feel the impetus to make my whole house different. There is no vision board inspiration driving the little things I’ve been doing. I’ve just enjoyed taking the time to make my environment and life more pleasant and open. Without an overarching thing to achieve I’ve given myself space to just do what I can, no guilt for not doing more, no feeling of overwhelm at the puny progress I’ve made. Just enjoyment. Enjoyment that something as small as deciding to fold and put away the laundry right now feels good.
This is the part where I usually encourage you to go after big dreams, set big goals for yourself and believe that you can achieve them, make things happen. While I still believe in all of that and want great things for you, I want tiny things for you too ❤