During the month of December of 2021, my wife and I committed to running every day. We ran three miles a day and did not miss a single day. I’m not going to lie, it was rough. Not that it was difficult to actually run the three miles. We have both been runners for years and are used to running distances much greater than this. It was just mentally tiring and boring. The same thing every single day.
I was happy when January came around and I could finally have a break. I was looking forward to getting back to my normal routine of running a few times a week. But something unexpected happened on Jan 4th, after a few days off I started again and then the next day, and the day after that. I have run every day since, and it has been easier than I ever thought it would.
That month of doing the same thing every day, formed a habit so strong that even though I thought I wouldn’t want to continue, I did anyway. It has become so ingrained in me that it comes as second nature now, my internal clock reminds me when it is time to run. It is now something I really enjoy doing every day. Developing a strong habit helped me push through the painful period to find joy in the process.
The importance of play.
When we are having fun our mind is free to explore, create and experiment in ways that we are not always able to. Getting messy sometimes creates the most beautiful pictures. If you can find a way to incorporate play into your process, you will increase your joy immensely. As well as increasing your productivity, and avoiding burnout.
Throw yourself into the process.
I'm reminded of a story I once heard about Jackson Pollock, an artist who elevated process over everything when creating his art. The story was that at times Pollock was so in the moment in his process that a cigarette butt would fall and become part of the painting. Leaving a part of the artist in his work. I never spotted one when I viewed his work at The Art Institute Of Chicago, but I heard from people who had. If you ever get the chance to view one of his paintings look closely, you may spot one.
Gratitude fundamentally changes the way your brain works. When you practice gratitude you keep a childlike wonder and apperception for life. Which can make even seemingly mundane tasks a rewarding experience. Appreciate the good, and change the way you view the bad. There is almost always good to be found if you look for it. Think of bad things as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Stop looking ahead and start enjoying the present.
Looking too far ahead can rob you of the joy of the moment. It is hard to be present when we are constantly looking ahead to a far-off goal. It can also be counterproductive, as it can hinder your creative process. Which can lead to you becoming stuck more easily. When we try to actively live in the present, our immediate actions take on a new purpose and importance.
Now I have a question for you.
What is something that you find joy in, and is there anything else in your day that is an opportunity to create joy?
Thanks for reading,