Sometimes You Have to Look Ahead to Find the “Joy”

I’ve been thinking about a quotation my friend, Nancy, sent me for the holidays: “If it causes more stress than joy, don’t do it.” December has just begun and I’m already a bit overwhelmed and stressed. It’s only going to get worse! In the midst of one chaotic day after another, you wonder how much “joy” is to be found. But if I think about how the “stress” will eventually lead to “joy”, it’s more palatable.

So my formula is going to be…"Future Joy must be greater than (or at least equal to) Present Stress" for me to press on.

Here are a few examples for the stress/joy litmus test:

– Take last week, plodding my way through a crowded grocery store shopping for ingredients for Thanksgiving desserts. Not exactly joyful. But when I thought about the fact that friends and family will enjoy them (maybe they’ll even bring JOY!), well, then the traffic jam of grocery carts didn’t seem so annoying.

– Or one of this week’s projects — finding 12 acceptable pictures of the kids for the annual calendar for my mother and brother. When I’m stuck on “August” and have no viable prospects for September to December, it’s feeling pretty tedious. But if I remember that this is something that my mother and brother enjoy looking at all year long (or convincingly tell me they do), then the hours of searching have a purpose.

– But then there’s the school’s annual holiday party next month — always a fun night. But when I look at the calendar and realize that that is already an over-scheduled week, I have to be honest that the stress of the week surpasses the joy of the party and so we’ll miss it.

I hope to apply this test throughout the season (homemade pie v. store-bought?; likely-to-be-exchanged sweater v. gift card?, etc.) and plan to bump up the joy!

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