Questioning Unclaimed Joy at Work
Ever read a phrase that stopped you cold? I’ve learned that when a phrase strikes me, there is a reason, especially as (like you) I read thousands of words a day (e-mails, articles, work reports, presentation slides… thousands). So, if within those thousands of words, a simple phrase makes me pause there’s something that’s begging to be explored.
It’s inconvenient (to say the least). I don’t have time to stop and ponder random phrases when I’m in the middle of doing all the things. And yet, when I press on with my day, I always regret it later because I can’t remember what the phrase was or why it made me stop, but it stays with me, like the ghost of something important I’ve forgotten to do. I really hate that nagging feeling, like I’m dropping the ball on attending to something important… to me. Ouch. Time to practice what I preach and bump what I want and need up the list. So, the next time a phrase caught my attention, I went with it. It was a VERY good choice, so good, I’m sharing it.
It was the phrase “unclaimed joy”. I can’t even remember what it was in reference to, but hours later it still held fascination for me. Was there unclaimed joy in my life? In the past there definitely was, but it’s something that only showed up in the rear-view mirror. And that was the fascination… what if I could spot unclaimed joy in the here and now, and not after it was far too late to enjoy it?
And what the heck is “unclaimed joy” anyway? I have no idea how it was defined in the initial context where I came across it, but for me it is the act of turning away from the good things because I overly-focus on the other stuff. Like my “to-do” list. Mistakes I thought I’d made (or actually made). Relationships I wanted (or needed) different things from (other than what I was experiencing), etc.
The phrase “unclaimed joy” paints a picture of joy just sitting there waiting to be picked up, like unclaimed baggage at an airport, and me walking past it to pick up a heavy briefcase full of hard work instead (and I know I’ve done that before, metaphorically speaking!). How can you not claim something that brings you joy? It’s a real thing that deserves exploration.
So, here’s what I’ve come up with to explore and claim more of the joy that’s in my day, without turning this into a toxically positive exercise where I “have to” something (telling myself “I have to” do something, takes this to a whole level of un-joyfulness and my inner three year old takes over with a “NO!”). Instead, each morning I’m looking forward into my day and asking myself what, if anything, sparks joy for me.
I’m intrigued by this simple exercise and what it has to teach me as I continue to navigate letting go of hyper-focus and defining myself (my work) only by what gets accomplished on my long “to do” list. I guess this is really about impact, and how things, like joy, affect me (when I let it) and how my joy can then ripple out towards others (because claimed joy cannot be contained, and it’s a little bit contagious).
I have a sneaking suspicion that if I can’t find joy for myself it’s not because it doesn’t exist, but because I’m not letting it in. So, what happens when I’m more consistent about letting it in?
I’m going to find out.
Working with Carleen I've learned to support my needs first. I was preparing myself to accept the consequences of this at work. Turns out, there were none as both my work and home life have now shown me that when I meet my needs, everything else just falls into place.
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