Do you ever feel like your life is way too complicated and/or lacking that pure joy you just know is out there? I know I have. And the funny/sad thing is that when I take a good hard look at why my life feels that way, I discover the source is the one thing in this world I can control: myself.
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Who makes my daily to-do list? I do. Who knows all the household, financial, medical etc. things that need to be taken care of yet puts off making those simple errands or phone calls? I do. Who sets unrealistic expectations of my role as a mother, wife, friend, daughter, Christian? I do. In short, I am my own worst enemy.
All of that being said, I do feel like 2017 held so much growth for me as a mom, wife, Christian, and just overall person. From that growth, I feel I have gained some wisdom in these areas of my life that I would feel selfish not imparting on other women who face the daily struggle that I know all to well.
I'm still not an expert by any means, nor will I ever be, but these 10 things I've started implementing in my life over the past year have truly helped me navigate this life easier and with a lot more happy moments strung throughout. So if you need some simplicity or joy injected into your life, read on and see if any of these 10 things seem worthwhile to you!
Let's start with ways to make your life less chaotic and cluttered...
5 ways to Simplify
5 Ways to Add Some Joy
1. Don't pass up moments to be with your kids - This is monumental in experiencing the JOY that is naturally laced throughout parenting. Not all of motherhood is supposed to be blissful; I truly think it is meant to try even the strongest of us. It's a spiritual assignment given to us to be servants to our families, but to find joy in that is the true goal. So when your little ones ask you to put on a movie, go cuddle and watch it with them. When they want to build a house of bocks, don't leave them to do it alone. Give them chalk and get right down there in the mess with them. Slide and swing with them at the park. Heck, even watch and interact on their iPad or Leap Frog with them. It is so easy to use these activities as a distraction for the little ones in order to get our own adult things done, but oh what we are missing when we choose that route!
2. Have dreams as well as goals - I used to be very goal-oriented, be it in fitness, coaching, teaching, financial, pretty much any area of my life. That has changed drastically since having kids, and my husband still wishes for me to have that drive because it did define who I was, but more-so than goals, I want to have dreams. What's the difference? Goals are tangible, attainable, and usually met in a time-frame. And they are good - don't get me wrong. But dreams are a little less concrete and a little more whimsical, if you will. My dreams are to grow closer to God, to see my children smile more in a day than they weep, have long, intimate talks with my husband more than arguing, and to be as a good to my friends and family as they are to me. It would be hard to measure and place a time-table on these things, right? That's why they are dreams and hopes rather than boxes on a check list.
3. Embrace the body you are in - So as I just mentioned, I've lost a lot of drive when it comes to certain things in my life, with fitness and diet being one of them. I still have the knowledge I gained in college of how our bodies work and what I could do to drive different results, but I don't hold myself to any standard of those things. Why? Well, because I want to live in this body of mine, not slave over it. So I'll have a salad if I'm craving some crisp lettuce, or I'll run if I am needing to sweat and release some tension. But I refuse to let those things drive me crazy. The body I am in is beautiful the way it is; cellulite, stretch marks, and extra pudge included. And even if I am the only one who thinks so, that's still enough!
4. Less social media - I recently wrote a blog post all about taking a step back from social media and what it did for me. Go check it out for a more in-depth look at this topic, but for the purpose of this post, I will say this: social media can be life-consuming. Through comparison, it steals our joy. Through sheer time spent on our devices, it steals fleeting moments with real people and real experiences. So giving ourselves a limit to how much we expose ourselves to it and let it eat up our time is crucial to bringing some joy into our lives. Don't get me wrong, I love Instagram. It is fun, I have a great group of moms I connect with daily, and I simply love looking at beautiful pictures. But this is just a small indulgence in my day, not one that deserves too much of my time and attention. What does deserve to captivate me? My kids, my home, my bible study, my friends, my husband, my parents, my prayer life. The real things in our lives that give us way more joy than little squares on a screen ever could.
5. Journal - This last one is BIG for me, and I'm hoping you find some value in it, too. Through bible studies and bullet journaling, I started dabbling in journaling in 2017, but something I started fresh in 2018 has really taken hold of me. I was shopping for a Christmas gift for my sweet sister-in-law and by chance, came across these 52 List Project books at Hobby Lobby. I grabbed her one version and I grabbed another version for myself. The idea is to tackle one 'list' a week and answer whatever the prompt may be. I love to write and I love to list, so this little book is a dream come true for me. But it's really great for people who don't necessarily love to write or know what to say in a journal entry. The prompts vary from anything from 'favorite movies' to 'the most difficult moments in your life.' It makes you think and reflect, and so much joy can come from that!
I hope some of these things bring you both simplicity and joy - because we live in such a complex world and could all use a little more of both those things!