To Do with Joy

For a long time I have made checklists.

For a long time I have also been embarrassed of my need to make checklists. For some reason I felt that they were more of a signal that I couldn’t manage things. Or perhaps they were a tell tale that I am determined to set myself up for failure.

I now realise that the above statements are simply a frame of mind that I held and wasn’t the truth and certainly didn’t need to be my forever mindset. Checklists and To Do lists are something so valuable in progress. I have worked with students creating To Do lists with purpose, intention and joy.

I have guided others in projects and have facilitated sessions of setting intentions and working towards completion of these checklists. This became a more powerful tool in my teaching as well as my personal life when I unloaded the previous mindset and reframed the whole experience. I got honest with myself and saw that I was indeed making lists of things that I couldn’t possible accomplish. I was making lists miles long that felt overwhelming and self destructive. I knew I needed to shift.

The lists are important. I know now that they need to be with purpose and intention and focus. If I am helping someone on a project, we need to target what we know needs to be done, what we know needs to happen in a specific period of time, and then what questions do we have.
Recently I reflected on the power of my To Do list practice. I learned that making these lists help move me forward help me progress. And then it hit me, I wanted to start making To Do lists with Joy at the center of it all. Joy. Yes. simply add Joy and see what happens…To Do with JOY. What would your list become? To Do in Joy…what would your list becomeI

My to do lists sometimes have items on it that normally are NOT associated with joyful feelings, like laundry. And yet, I tell myself I am going to do the laundry with joy. How does that look? Well, try it and find out. Finding the joy in the routine of life is magical. It is a shift of heart that redirects the soul to the purpose. It sounds hokey perhaps. I learned that creating list of things I want to do with Joy has pushed me forward, kept me looking ahead to more joyful times. It has also empowered me that I can create my joy in the most obscure places.

Now as I am diving into this next season, I wanted to recommit to some goals and energy. Here is a formula I started using. I have a morning meditation and then write.
Five things I want to do (in joy) this year. Three things I want to do (in joy) this season. Two things I want to do (in joy) this month. One thing I want to do (in joy) today.
the choices can change everyday or you can see patterns arise. I give myself space to be joyful and specific in my intentions. I make it realistic as well as aligned to those little whispers of desire. Here is is one more time:
This year – five things
This season – three things
This month – two things
Today – one thing

If this is overwhelming – I take a breath and write down or come up with 1 thing I want to do in Joy.

Then I do it.

Then breathe and pick a new joyful thing.

I admit I use this tactic more often than the other big list. It feels great.

The Thermostat

Last week I was teaching a class to a group of students soon to be Seniors in High School. We discussed that this moment is a very important one for them. They are being given a chance to hit the RESET button and make change for a large group of people using simple and small methods.

The students are excited for their upcoming Senior year. They have been through a lot. Most high school students go through a lot of trials and tribulations that the world doesn’t acknowledge. However this upcoming class is headed back into their school buildings after a pandemic. A pandemic that made their country and their world sick and unsafe. Many students had family members or friends die from Covid 19 or related complications. They had to rethink their daily schedules and habits as they navigated remote learning and close quarters with their families for months on end. The pandemic also gave time and space for the world to check in with each other through social media more than before. We exploded through quarantine with trolls and video footage of horrible moments of humanity burying the joys and celebrations of connection and togetherness. It has been a rough time.

So last week when they were bubbling with excitement to be finished with work and begin their summer plans and day dreams of the “Senior” year, I reminded them of something. They not only hold a leadership position in the building because they are the oldest but because their school needs their perspective. The freshman class will walk into their high school having been at home for most of middle school. The sophomores will never have attended a class in their high school in person. The Junior class was in the building for only six months. I reminded them of the enormous opportunity to hit RESET and create a school in their image. They discussed some of the traditional social norms that honestly didn’t feel good. Ways of addressing underclassman that they didn’t like when they were younger. They discussed the need for more inclusion, and discussion on identity with respect. I urged them to believe that they hold the power to make it happen. I told them something I tell my mentee teachers.

People in your life will say things like “take the temperature of the room” and they are referring to the social temperature. However I think that is a tool needed when you are coming into an already established space looking for something. If you want to ask your parent for twenty dollars or to go to a party, you first gauge what kind of mood they are in. You adjust to them. When you are the leadership in the room, when you are the one everyone looks to for establishing the norms, you need to be the thermostat. You need to set the temp and live it. I encouraged them all to remember that each day holds the promise of setting a new norm. Begin Again and let it begin with you. Be the Thermostat, your community needs you.

I am reflecting back on this today. I am thinking about places and ways in my own life that I need to be the Thermostat. I am reflecting on where I can live out the things I want to be practiced in my life. Human being naturally want to connect and join our rhythms into one. I want to be more mindful about where I lead and how I begin again each day to keep it moving towards a world and a life of which I can be proud.