Note what sparks your joy

I just read this article from Iyanla Vanzant about how to tell if you are settling for something in your life.

To summarize – basically, you shouldn’t ever do it because you’ll never really be happy.

She gives you five ways to tell if you’re settling without realizing it:

  • When you have to work yourself into a state of excitement rather than naturally experiencing joy and passion, you’re probably settling.
  • When you bargain with yourself about what you can do without rather than feeling gratitude for what you already have, you’re probably settling.
  • When your focus is on the time and energy you’ve invested in an endeavor rather than the love, joy and gratification you’ve gained, you’re probably settling.
  • When you’re making excuses about why you should stay put rather than going for what you truly want, you’re probably settling.
  • When you spend more time complaining about what you have than appreciating it, you’re definitely settling.

This is probably most helpful when you’re applying it to something you have a lot of energy around – something you really, really want, and it’s something you can clearly identify the reasons that you want it, and feel strongly about those reasons.  If you have a clarified desire that is that strong, I agree, settling will not ever fill that hole.

If it is something you haven’t really put a lot of thought into though, or something you want for the wrong reasons though, then settling is not really settling.  (Because you never really wanted that in the first place.)  I’m imagining wanting a new car because all of your friends have new cars and you want to be cool and you want a new car too.  And then you get that new car and it doesn’t smell right and it doesn’t fit your skis and you can’t see out the pillars in the back and pretty soon it’s a huge pain in the ass.  Or I’m imagining spending all of this time lusting after a $10000 espresso machine, and refusing to settle for a store bought one, when you only make espresso once per week, and the $200 one would have met all of your needs and then some, and it turns out you can’t even taste the difference between the two anyway.

So I’d only apply this advice where I felt very strongly about something emotionally and put enough thought and research into the reasons for wanting it that I felt that thing would truly improve me and my life in the having of it.

I’m noting a parallel to Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” where basically she managed to write 150 pages about how you should keep only those things that spark joy and make your heart sing, and get rid of everything else.

Does it spark joy when you think about it?  Don’t settle.  Does it spark joy when you think about buying it?  Don’t settle.  When you’re settling, does the substitute spark joy?  If not, don’t settle.

Good reminder for me right now as I decide what activities are worth my time.  I find myself getting choosier and choosier as time goes on.  And I’m okay with that.

What sparks your joy?  What doesn’t?  Not sure?  Let me know and I can help you figure it out.


Leave a Reply