Small Joys

“I’m not a crier,” said a favorite coaching client. “I’ve tried to cry over this, but the tears don’t come.”

My client has a young child — and a job she loves. She’s an executive at a company you’ve heard of.  “I feel splatted,” she says. Her travel schedule involves flying to a different city every week this month.

I work on Work/Life balance in some form with all of my clients. Work/Life balance with clients with small children is especially poignant: “I feel such sadness that I will miss her childhood and it will be gone,” says my client.

To tip that balance back towards Life, given that this client has meaningful work she loves, we’ve talked about increasing the emotional abundance in her life, to being present to the time she does have with her child, her husband, herself.

All of which is great, but she’s still flying away from her baby tomorrow. “I’m dreading it,” she said. “I just have to get through this month.”

I picked a book up from the library recently that I’ve begun incorporating into my coaching practice: The Joy of Appreciative Living by Jacqueline Kelm.

“If you want to shift your focus to create more joy, whether in the small moments or the big ones, you have to take an active role in making it happen,” Kelm writes. “It is a choice, and not something that just happens on its own.”  Kelm suggests answering the question every morning: “What one thing could I do today, no matter how small, that would increase my joy?”

I’ve incorporated that question into my own morning routine. My answers vary:

  • Something I can do today to increase my joy is to write in a coffee shop
  • One thing I could do today to increase my joy is to make a big dinner for my family
  • Something I can do today to increase my joy is to meditate at dawn
  • One thing I can do today is to practice Gnossienne

I’ve found that when I set the intention around joy, I invariably find it. Of course I’m going to meditate at dawn if I say it’s going to increase my joy – dishes and email be damned. Being intentional around joy helps me see it, and seek it, and prioritize it, and appreciate it around me. It helps slow life down.

I listened to my client dread a month of her life – days and days of her precious life – and I asked her, “What will you do this week to increase your joy in your life?”

“I don’t know what joy looks like,” she said after a pause. And I listened to her weep at last.

She emailed me several days later: “My cooking afternoon sure brought me joy… I got three glorious hours to myself. That was worth journaling.”

Note: This post was written and published with the express permission of this client.