What makes you tick?
I was recently chatting with a group of people about the stresses and strains of every day life, and the subject of self-care came up. We spoke about the fact that, with life having been so weird for so long, when we ask ourselves the question “What do I enjoy?” our minds might go completely blank.
I’m sure I remember Dr Rangan Chatterjee, author of books like Feel Better in Five, telling the story of a male patient who just couldn’t shake the feeling of sadness. Under ‘normal’ circumstances, the good doctor might have signposted the man to local services and possibly written a prescription for suitable medication. However, on this particular day I understand Dr Chatterjee felt compelled to ask a question: “What have you stopped doing, that used to bring you joy?” The man thought for a moment and replied that he’d always had a keen interest in model trains, but they’d been in the attic for years and he hadn’t looked at them. I believe Dr Chatterjee suggested to the man that he went home, blew the dust off his favourite hobby and come back in two weeks and see how he felt. The patient came back two weeks later “a changed man”.
Since the pandemic many of us may have found ourselves in this situation; there may have been things we’ve stopped doing, either because we’ve been so busy, or we simply forgot how much we enjoyed doing them.
Here’s what might help:
This week, set the intention to Find Your Sparkle. There are many ways you can approach this, and this might depend on whether it’s your home, work or another area of your life you’re trying to improve. If you’re struggling to find a sense of purpose, or feel like you’re stuck in a rut with your job, one of the questions I ask on my Live with Purpose course is “What would you do for free?” Of course, we need to pay the bills, and things are tight for many at the moment, but where could you start to redirect your attention, perhaps through volunteering, if it sets you on a path that means something?
You could try a Johari Window, a tool developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Lingham, to see what puts a bit of sparkle in your step; this might include asking other people to tell you what lights you up. When you “don’t know what you don’t know”, sometimes the best thing you can do is something that you’ve never done before. It might be trying a photography course, starting to knit or even doing a skydive! You could think about creating a Vision Board if that helps.
Sometimes we need to think about what we can control and what we can’t. We lose our mojo when we start to feel like we have no agency – no ability to choose – the things that are happening in our lives. Some things are definitely out of our control, but how we navigate these situations in our minds can also help. (This can often keep us awake at night, and I talk about this and offer some activities in my book Answers In The Dark). Maybe write a list of all the things in your life right now you feel you can control – like how well you look after yourself – and what you can’t.
Above all though, remember that your sparkle is unique to you. What makes you shine, might be completely different to someone else. Find what works for you, and do more of it.
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You might also like: my book Answers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal, out now.
© Delphi Ellis 2022