Tis the season of gratitude and this year I’m particularly thankful for my understanding and commitment to nourishing my energy, creativity and joy. The more I get to know myself, the more I recognize what’s good for my system and what isn’t—and I don’t just mean food. When you know this about yourself, the choices you make become so clear.
If I wouldn’t eat baloney, because it’s frickin’ bad for me, why the heck would I fill my body with other poisons that stress me out?
Hang with me, you’ll see what I mean in a minute.
During the Healing Cancer World Summit, you heard me talk about the idea that self-care is healthcare. Well, self-care is also about self-honoring. Listening to the voice within that says, “go to bed earlier, don’t drink another one, decline that invitation, stand up for yourself and your community, give those pants away—they’re too tight and they make you feel lousy, take the day off and play,” etc.
As my self-honoring practice deepens, I’m more conscious of the energy I allow in my space. I trust that my happiness is often a choice. It’s an inside job and like any other job I’ve ever had, I have to work at it to be successful. Sure, sometimes happiness is spontaneous and that’s wonderful. But often times it doesn’t just come to me. It’s an environment I consciously cultivate (or not!).
When I’m consistently out of alignment with my joy, it can be a sign that I’ve veered off track. Perhaps I started to doubt or judge myself. Or maybe I decided to say nasty stuff about myself or something like that. The truth is, I may not be able to choose my first thought or action, but I can always choose my second one. I can choose to come back home to my happiness and true nature—love. Love for myself, love for others, love for the planet and all the sentient beings. Love.
Now this doesn’t mean that outside forces, injustices and tragedies don’t happen, they do (like, all the time). And you bet your ass they can greatly impact our joy or make it harder to reach. In those situations, we may even feel like happiness is only available for the lucky few. That’s when we really need to use our personal tools to return to optimism. Because above all else, hope is the engine for change.
So what does working at a joyful, creative life look like? For me, it’s boils down to awareness. Being conscious of what fills my happiness tank and what drains it. The more mindful I am, the easier it is to close the gap and shorten the recovery time between what I’m doing that separates me from joy and what I need to do to get back into alignment. It’s a practice and some days I’m much better at it than others.
There are lots of ways to do this, but here are a few steps that are helping me now.
6 Tips for Living a More Joyful and Creative Life
1. Count your blessings.
You’ve heard this one a million times, so why not hear it a million and one?! It’s easy to focus on what we don’t have, to compare ourselves to others and feel like we’re coming up short. But the best way to stop that fear-based thinking is to continually reflect on what you’re grateful for. Years ago I learned that Oprah keeps a gratitude journal by her bed. Each night, before she goes to bed, she writes down 10 things she’s grateful for. Because this is a daily practice, she consciously goes about her day looking for blessings. Talk about a happiness booster! Can you imagine cruising around like a gratitude astronaut? Every cell in your body would smile. And not for nothing—Oprah’s life is pretty rad. If she inspires you, why not take a page out of her book and model some of the key behavior that got her where she is today? Just sayin’!
2. Create before you consume.
This idea came from my best friend, Marie Forleo. On one of our weekly Skype chats we mused on how to protect our muses. We agreed that reading someone else’s work before we create can sometimes throw us off. So while I enjoy learning, being inspired and seeing what other brilliant folks are up to, I have to take care of my artist first. For me, that means writing. For you, it could be something else. Bottom line: Your creativity is a direct line to your divinity, so honor your muse first.
3. Take a 30 for 30 approach to the news.
You may not know this about me, especially because I rarely bring politics into my work, but I’m a political junkie. In fact, not only am I obsessed with what’s going on in the world, I also come from a long line of politicians, on both sides of my family. My great, great (lots more greats) grandfather was a Governor and Senator of Ohio, the sixth Chief Justice and the Secretary of the Treasury. While on the other side of my family, my great, great uncle was the Governor of New York and Secretary of Commerce under President Harry S. Truman.
My point is, like it or not, politics runs in my veins. But, I also know how toxic it can be, especially today. While I don’t want to disengage, I do need to know my energetic limits. That’s why I recently put myself on a challenge (after I voted during the midterms, of course!).
I’m calling this challenge the 30 for 30 and here are the rules: You can only spend 30 minutes per day actually reading the news (not watching paid talking heads or faux entertainment) for 30 days. You absorb it all in one setting, which means you can’t hit the internet lever multiple times per day. This is super important for me because I treat my news apps like sugar cookies at Christmas time—I can’t walk away! If you’ve got a similar addiction, this challenge may help. Feel free to shorten the amount of time if you want, just avoid spreading it out over multiple sessions because that’ll dilute the purpose. I’m less agitated and sleeping better while still knowing the facts. Try it!
4. Unfollow people and organizations that dim your vibe.
As part of the challenge I mentioned above, I also unfollowed a bunch of folks. Nothing personal, they’re amazing people and organizations, I just needed a break. Either I wasn’t enjoying the content, it was turning too negative or I was feeling bad about myself for unhealthy reasons. The point is that when I did a gut check, my gut told me to unfollow—so I listened and you should too. Your body is the best social media manager out there!
5. Honor Sacred Sundays.
Because I own my own business, sometimes I’m sneaky and decide to “just get a jump on the week ahead” by spending time working on Sunday. That may sound like a responsible idea, but for me it’s not, especially because I’m not great at knowing my limits around work. I love what I do and I also have a lot to do! An unhealthy combo for someone like me who has addiction issues and unhealthy boundaries around this area. Plus, if I don’t recharge—especially on Sunday—I’m far less stress-resilient during the week. Sundays are for the soul, they’re for the muse and the woods. Sundays are for cooking, journaling (gratitude lists!), eating vegan tacos with friends and watching Game of Thrones. Sundays are for fires, calling my parents, reading beautiful words and checking in with my bestie.
I’ll be honest, I’m not great at receiving, but I sure love to give. And for me, that means supporting animal charities. Nothing makes me happier than going through my end of year finances so I can see what’s left for my furry and feathered friends. Just FYI: Giving Tuesday is coming up on November 27. It’s a perfect time to throw a few bones over to an organization that inspires you. Why? Because many businesses do matching fundraisers on this special day, which makes your contribution that much more impactful. The company you work for, your local grocery store or favorite place to online shop may even have something planned!
I hope these tips help you honor your precious self during this busy, chaotic time of year. Because there will always be to-dos to check off, people to see and errands to run—but we all need the chance pause and reconnect to ourselves.
For me, that means consciously monitoring the types of energy I’m letting into my sphere and taking extra time to flex my creative muscles. For you, it might be something different. Whatever it is, remember that you know what’s best for you. Listen to that voice.
Your turn: I’m curious, how do you cultivate joy? Or what are you grateful for this year? Answer whatever question you’re moved to share. I’d love to know!
Peace and alignment,
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