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24 Sep 2017


By Gracie Carroll

Me, Myself and I: Why It’s Important To Focus On What Brings You Joy

By Jen Kirsch

Photo Credit: Annie Jacobs

A big goal, vibe, and way of being I want to cultivate this year, is simply focusing on joy.

Joy in the form of self-love, and joy in the form of self-care, and really just focussing on what brings me joy in relation to the relationship I have with, well, myself.

Not in a selfish no-one-else-matters type of way, but in a way where I can be my most authentic self, without letting the thoughts or opinions of others, or my romantic relationships and friendships, define me. I’m at a point where I’m learning to focus on and bask in my newfound singlehood and independence, and really taking time to honour and be alone with myself.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when this joy movement really made its mark, but I assume it likely arose that it arose around the same time the self-care movement really reared its head in our lives thanks to the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and her goop-goodness. The rise of this ‘You Do You‘ mindset means we can do all of this without that guilt we used to carry around when we would bail on plans, put ourselves and feelings and needs first, or when we’d just say no. Saying no seems like something so simple, but it’s something many of us struggle with every day. This new movement is teaching us that not only should we say no, but we should be proud of ourselves for saying it. Hear, hear!

I’ve been known in the past to jump from one thing to the next, in a too-much-is-never-enough way (a v characteristic gemini trait, no doubt) but instead of feeding myself quick fixes (a byline in a notable publication here, a rebound relationship there) I just want to be and do things that bring me that feeling of joy in a real, tangible, ever-lasting way. So long momentary fixes, girl is growing up!

Considering how many of us have tapped into focusing (and finding) joy, there’s a good chance you might have similar self-care goals for yourself this year. If you’re struggling with where and how to start, here are a few simple ways that have been working for me and my joie de vivre, that I hope might help you too.

Find joy in making a homemade hummus like this one from Blissful Basil

You Can Find Joy In The Simplest Things

Cultivating joy is making lifestyle changes that will impact my day to day life and livelihood for the better. It’s cooking most of my meals and treats from scratch, at home, nourishing myself with plants and proteins and probiotics that I know are good for my temple (aka my body). It’s reading a variety of books on a variety of topics and genres, as I lay around the house in a matching pajamas set with my hair in a top-knot without a care in the world. Sure, I’ve done this before, but the mindset that it’s okay to just bask in what I want, when it feels like a fit for me is something new, and something I’m still working on.

You Are Your Own BFF (So Bask In Your Own Company)

When I wound up in a very co-dependent relationship, I lost the ways in which I used to take care of myself. So going into 2018 I hibernated while focusing on myself and getting my independence back. And surprisingly, I’ve found that I actually really rather enjoy my own company. Which is great! It’s grand! It’s something I’ve been wanting to cultivate for a considerably long time and here I am doing just that. What a time it is to be alive!

But I wasn’t always in this state of bliss. Of acceptance. Of gratitude. Of joy. Over the holidays I was doubting myself, my decisions, and was internally struggling with what was going on in my own head (spoiler alert: a lot!) c/o the current situation I was going through in my life. My gut was telling me one thing (that I grew out of my romantic relationship) but my heart was telling me another (I love this person and their company, stay.) Before the year ended, I called it quits, and that’s when I decided it’s time to live a joyous life.

Image via Pinterest

Determine What A Joyous Life Looks Like To You

So what does a joyous life look like to me? It’s saying no and not committing to things that don’t serve me. It’s listening to my body and soul and mostly my sixth sense, to determine whether or not I should do something. It’s asking for what I deserve, whether it be being paid my rate for writing a piece, not working for “exposure”, and then walking away from opportunities –  head held high – if it my needs are not being met; if my work and worth is going undervalued. It’s not feeling guilt or being controlled by others ideas and ideals, if a situation doesn’t serve me.

And so you too, sweet reader, can do these things. Can set out a joyful life for yourself, on your own terms. I swear it’s less scary than it seems, and when you know you’re doing your very best and your intentions are pure, you really can thrive.

Find And Own Your Personal Narrative

So how can you live a more joyful life? Simply put, by taking control and owning a personal narrative that feeds your well-being. Your wants, needs and truth. By not committing to something that you’re not sure about. By not “doing it for the ‘gram’” or acting out of guilt, but acting in a way that makes you shine. In Sarah Knight’s latest book You Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want (A No F*cks Given Guide) she says “It’s absolutely okay – and healthy – to be concerned with your own self-interest, which you can do while also looking out for others. Being selfish and being selfless don’t have to be mutually exclusive.” She also ever-so-poignantly notes, “Knowing, asking for, pursuing, and preserving what makes you happy may be selfish. But it’s also smart.”

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Understand That Everyone’s Joy Is Different

Joy means different things to different people. Joy for me is eating clean, plant based foods and cooking at home. It’s meditating daily. It’s working hard, meeting my deadlines, pitching new publications and working with new editors to challenge myself and to help me continue to grow. It’s listening to my body, and treating it as a temple. It’s knowing when to end a conversation, to walk away, to close my computer, or to log off Instagram. Joy is knowing I’m doing the best I can do, and am acting in pure ways, and in turn speaking up when I feel like I’m not being respected. Joy is relishing this moment self-care is having, and putting myself first, uncomfortable though it might be. I may be writing this piece from the comfort and luxury of my bed. I may be wearing a sheet mask while writing it. That’s the joy of being my own boss and doing things on my own terms.

Detox Your Life From Negativity

So bask in self-help books and delicious books of poetry. Spring clean and cleanse your social media feeds to ensure you’re following accounts that make you feel joyful and better off, not jealous, negative or ‘worse than.’ Reach out to people whose company lifts you up, and work on navigating and removing yourself from friendships and relationships that seem to be solely formed out of convenience and opportunities. If you think you’re being used, it’s safe to say you are. Notice when people suddenly come back into your lives and be mindful of their intentions. Live a life of quality, not quantity.

As for me, I’m nowhere near where I want to be, and I’m looking forward to continuing on this journey, but I know that I’m in a better place mentally, physically and spiritually now than I was just a few months ago. The hardest part is over, and the best is yet to come. Or at least, a great meal of food made from my heart in my lively, able hands.



(Story by Contributing Editor, Jen Kirsch)

*main image by Annie Jacobs via LooksLikeFilm*

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