If You Want More Joy In Life, Ask Yourself This Question

If You Want More Joy In Life, Ask Yourself This Question Hero Image

There's a persistent question among those who have a thirst for life: What more can I do?

Notice if you find yourself asking this question. Maybe you're striving for the next level of success in your career. Stretching further in that yoga pose. If you’re self-employed, maybe you ask this when it comes to marketing your business.

There’s a thirst to have more for yourself, and to be more available to help other people and have the greatest impact.

But this question can keep me trapped on a treadmill. I'm always striving, always looking to the next thing, always straining to move forward. So, here’s an alternative question that I’ve found to be a blessing, and I think you will, too:

What LESS can you do?

ADVERTISEMENT

I first encountered this question when I developed Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) a few years ago. It became painful to pick up a plate, to chop vegetables, or to ride a bike. And most distressingly, I was unable to type! The frustration built up as I couldn’t express myself in my preferred medium.

I was lying on the massage table for the umpteenth time, trying to have the tension eased, and told my massage therapist I feared I’d never be able to write comfortably again. He understood it would be unthinkable to tell me: “Stop using a computer.”

So instead he replied, “Do the absolute minimum you have to do to not destroy your career.”

And so this became my daily question: What less can I do?

It’s the practice I now offer you. Even if there isn’t a health issue preventing you from going at full-throttle, try it on as daily meditation. Put a Post-It note up on your mirror, on your computer, on your door to remind you to ease off from the "more, more, more" mentality.

What less can you do to enjoy your life? If you’re self-employed, what less can you do to grow your business at a healthy rate? This question will help you focus on what matters, and sort out what's superfluous.

It will help you discern what's coming from your inner taskmaster, driving you forward with unrealistically high expectations, and what is your heart’s joyful calling. With every activity this week, get curious.

  • If you don’t write that email, will it destroy your career?
  • If you don’t triple-check the punctuation in that flyer, will it make your workshop a disaster?
  • If you don’t reply to your friend’s text immediately, will the world crash in?

Anne Lamott said, “Perfection is the voice of the oppressor.” Start noticing how you might be oppressing yourself, by constantly striving to do more and more.

Perhaps there is less you can do — and that, paradoxically, will free you up to be more fully yourself, more whole-heartedly available, more relaxed and happy — and therefore more open to intuition and more attractive to those people who are looking for an oasis of calm in their more-more-more lives. Less can indeed be more.

I’d be curious to hear what you think. How do you decide what matters, and what doesn’t? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Explore More