How do you find joy and enthusiasm for anything when everything is turned upside down? That’s what I’ve been thinking about this past week.
As you know if you’ve been listening for a while, my fundamental business belief, what shapes everything I do and how i work with makers and designers, is that your business will thrive and YOU will feel best about it when you follow your enthusiasm. What do I mean by enthusiasm? I like the definition: intense or eager enjoyment or interest.
You can follow your enthusiasm IN your business, by working on projects you love, letting go of expectations about what you “should” do, working with the kind of clients that you prefer. You can follow your enthusiasm outside of your business by allowing yourself to work on non-business projects and filling up your enthusiasm well with things that seem completely unrelated (for me lately it’s reading, and making bookish videos, which you can find on YouTube. Other times it’s been quilting or knitting).
But with everything uncertain and stressful and all the change…how do we find any enthusiasm?
I don’t know about your COVID situation, but mine is full of…obligation and responsibility.
Basically, we’re all having to do a lot of things we don’t want to do, or that we’re not prepared to do, or that are just hard.
On top of that, you have your business – maybe it is doing just fine, maybe it has lost some of it’s sales channels, maybe you’ve lost all your working hours, when you would work on it.
So does the idea of enthusiasm and joy really have a place in our current situation?
In my experience, yes.
Not because things aren’t hard or we’re going to pretend everything is great. But because now, more than ever, you need to take care of your best business resource, and your family’s most important resource – your well-being. A key ingredient to your mental and emotional well-being is doing things that are just fun. That you get excited about, that brings you joy, or just interests you.
But how do you tap into that enthusiasm?
I have a few suggestions. Not all of them are going to work for you, but I want to challenge you to try each of them, until you feel some spark of joy or even interest:
- Start with the mental health checklist.
I shared this in episode 285 You can listen in the that episode for the full list and explanation. The short version is – there are some easy things you can do every day that studies show are the most effective at maintaining mental well-being. Do them daily, even when you feel low or overwhelmed and you’ll feel a bit more human.
- Wash your hands and face (good advice right now!)
- Wake up at the same time everyday (really important for managing depression),
- Take your vitamins and meds
- Move your body
- Say No when you need to.
- Do a thing that used to bring you a lot of joy, that is completely useless. When I say useless, this isn’t a judgement – I mean anything that doesn’t directly benefit anyone but you. There’s this pressure now (maybe always) to be using this time to very useful – to bake bread, to sew face masks, to educate our children 8 hours a day, to start that project you’ve been meaning to start or finish that project that you never found time for.
I want to challenge you to do something OTHER than all that, just for the joy of it, for like 20 minutes. This might be video games or reading a novel or sewing or knitting (something not for your business) or painting or baking or yoga or talking on the phone with your friends.
For me this is reading novels (Check out my YouTube channel for videos on what I’m reading lately) and playing legos and printing my photos.
- Play a game.
Not because your kids want to or to spend “quality” time, but just for the fun of it. It could be video games (I am loving Animal Crossing!), a phone game (Two Dots!), a card game (we’re trying out Uno with the kids) or a board game (we like Catan for the whole family).
- Go outside.
We got this $10 chairs for the porch and they are the best investment. Even if it’s for 10 minutes, being outside with a blue sky and listening to the birds chirp or watching the squirrels run around is the best thing ever.
If art relaxes you, get a $5 box of chalk and draw over every surface you have access to for 5 minutes.
- Dance Party.
Blast your favorite music and dance. Alone or together, this is my #1 mood booster, yet I’m always forgetting to do it.
If dancing isn’t an option or your favorite music isn’t very danceable (Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill), so I highly recommend you look up old music videos from your favorite bands when you were a teenager. This has brought Jay and I HOURS of delight in the last month, and explaining MTV to the kids is….challenging.
- Watch YouTube videos or listen to podcasts about things you’ve wanted to learn about.
Not because “now you have the time”, but because learning is a great way of sparking some enthusiasm for other things you have to do. Learning new things is inspiring, even when it’s hard.
- Make time to listen to podcasts or watch YouTube videos.
Not even to learn, just for fun. If you have a favorite show on any platform – make sure you’re making time for it. For me, this is slightly different than watching a TV show, because the podcasts and videos are made by real people – living their real lives right now. It’s not slicked and produced – it’s more like connecting with friends.
This all comes back to mental health.
You’ll notice that all the things I listed aren’t hard, but they are all somewhat challenging. The reason is that studies show that having too much completely passive consuming time is not actually restorative to our wellbeing. Yes, by all means, binge on your favorite shows and movies – but don’t count on that as your only form of rest. (One way that a show or movie can also be inspiring is if you create fan art from it, or go on a deep dive to research it or an aspect of it.)
This can all be boiled down to one word – PLAY.
When things are hard and there is stress and responsibility, just make sure you have some time to play and be playful every day.
I want to be clear – there’s no judgement in whatever you’re doing right now to survive. Most days I’m feeling good if I can just follow through with the mental health checklist and do ONE thing off this list. When I was sick for a week, I did absolutely nothing. And that’s ok. You’ll bounce back. Your family will bounce back.
We will bounce back.
In the meantime, I hope this helps you find a spark of enthusiasm and joy in your day and that you can carry that through all the other things you have to do.