The All Joy Diet

The past couple weeks, I have been battling a spiritual black hole. It happens. Using the strategies I describe here, I’ve climbed out. But when you’ve climbed out of a spiritual hole, you’re not on solid footing yet. It’s time to get your joy back with the All Joy Diet.

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This week, we're talking about the All Joy Diet. This is where we go from surviving to THRIVING.

The All Joy Diet: You have everything you need.

1. Self care 101

So, last week, as promised, I went on a self-care discipline. I worked that sh*t like a monk. I stuck to the schedule. I slept. I went to meetings. I prayed every day. Journaled. Did the tasks on my to-do list. I ate moderately. Three meals, hardly any snacks.

No sugar. No booze. No drugs. (These are a given for me, but still I have to remind myself. You know, marijuana’s legal in Portland. According to one source -- a random friend of mine, but still -- we have more marijuana dispensaries in Portland than Starbucks and McDonalds’ put together. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it seems true, driving down the street. So, still, I have to remind myself, Oh, yeah -- that? That’s not for me.)

So, I stay on plan. I stay off substances that don’t work for me. I forego people who make me feel desperate and crazy.

But this week, I’m stepping it up a level. Oh, yeah, baby. It’s the all-joy diet.

That’s right. This week, I’m not just doing what’s good for me. I’m doing what I WANT to do. That means, I ask myself over and over again, what’s my jam? And I go for it.

So, a $5 box of strawberries? Yep. Haircut scheduled? Done. New novel? You bet.

2. News fast

I know this one is controversial. We can use this as an excuse to hide our heads in the sand. But the news fast is not permanent. It’s a temporary respite. Reading articles on our Facebook feed about the horrors of the world does not typically change the world but it can drain us so much that we feel like we’re doing a lot. In reality, we’re often just diminishing our ability to make real change.

We need rest and a news fast provides just that -- rest for our spirits and for our souls. If something drastic happens, someone will tell you. You can afford to take a day off, especially if it will make you more fit to take action based on what you think needs changing in the world.

You can do your part, but your part is bigger than just listening to NPR in your car all day. That’s not going to change the world. If you’re anything like me, it’s just going to drain your hope and energy to create actual change.

So, off the news, just for a day or two.

3. Social media fast

A recent study says what we all know - the more time you spend on Facebook, the unhappier you get. Sometimes you need to use social media for your job, but mostly it’s a time suck and provides the illusion of connection.

When I take a day or two off Facebook and twitter, I find that often I’m opening these apps looking for connection. I realize this from the pang of loneliness I feel when I realize I can’t just jump online. So, instead I text someone and make actual real contact with a friend. This is a much more fulfilling connection than looking at vacation photos from someone I haven’t seen for decades.

Take a day off, or more if you can. Take two or even three days off for a gold medal.

4. A bumpin’ new mix

My new spotify playlist is called Energetic Shift. My last one was called ALL JOY. The list is full of songs that make me feel like Rocky throwing air punches, or like I am a dancing queen, or like I don’t care who hears me singing along at the top of my lungs as I drive down MLK Blvd.

For you it may be 80s pop, or country, or Christian, or speed metal. Whatever it is that brings joy to your heart. Hey, I’m not here to judge. I’m just saying: Go ahead - get your groove on.

If you don’t know where to start, go old school and make a playlist with whatever was popular when you were in middle school or high school. (I think I need to start a new one with Pump Up the Jam). Those are often songs we can rock out to unselfconsciously. (Unless you were emo, like me - big surprise - then you gotta get some new jams.)

Seriously. Don’t be so cool. Just be silly. It feels better.

5. Random good things

Naps, reading. Walks. Drinking a smoothie. New lipstick. Painted nails. Whatever makes you happy here. A bubble bath. Why not? Treat yourself to the things that make you happy, or if you aren’t sure, treat yourself to the things that MIGHT make you happy, or that have made you happy in the past.

If there’s someplace new I’ve been wanted to go, I try it out. If I am doing errands with my son, we work a lot of laxness into the task and stop to smell and compare all the essential oil perfumes at the super expensive organic grocery store, or we get smoothies and sit and read for a while. Or we play an epic game of Forbidden Desert, my new obsession.

During the All Joy Diet, I keep up with my usual routines - prayer, journaling, my work - but I do them in the spirit of “what I want to do”. So, I mind my routines, but I don’t let them rule me. I do what generally works, but it's not iron-clad. I keep some lightness about me and keep my freedom close at hand.

If I decide to sleep in instead of getting up early and doing my prayer and journaling, that’s fine. God knows me whether I pray or not. I can connect with my Higher Power bit by bit throughout the day.

The takeaway

Talking about expensive fruit and bubble baths can seem trivial. Like, whatever. Who cares? But that who cares feeling? That’s depression and cynicism talking. Life is an amazing place. Let’s love it.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s ok to jog sometimes or even to stop for a water break. Not only is it ok, it’s essential. I can trust myself and I can trust the process. God doesn’t want us to be miserable. God made an awesome world for us, and we get to enjoy it. So, let’s.

Comment here: What are you loving this week? What’s one good thing?