August flew by, which is not what I was expecting. It was a beautiful 30 days filled with learning, trials, service, growth, and – you guessed it – joy.
If you read my previous post about The Joy Project, you know we had a number of things we were removing from our lives for the month of August. It was interesting to talk to people and answer their questions about what we were doing and why. Almost every person I spoke with focused on what we were removing. Very few people even asked about what we were replacing those things with and how it was affecting us. I’m still trying to figure out the reason for this. I think there are lots of possibilities. But the main one, in my opinion, is that naturally as humans we apply things to our own lives. If we hear that someone is staying off of social media for a month, we think about what it would be like if we did that ourselves. Some people said, “Oh, I could never do that. Good for you.” Others said, “Wow, that’s great. I should really do that sometime.” We heard the exact same responses when people heard we weren’t eating sugar, gluten, and dairy.
I would say that eliminating those things did contribute somewhat to my overall joy in the last month. But it wasn’t the most satisfying part of it. It was hard, in fact! It was difficult to be at functions or events with friends and not eat the roll at the dinner party, or that mouth-watering treat. But the hardest part for me was actually staying off social media. There were multiple times a day in the first week or two where I grabbed my phone out of habit just to scroll Instagram or Facebook. But those apps weren’t even there, so I was forced to find other things to fill my time. And I did.
The part of this project that truly brought me the purest joy were not the things I removed, but what I replaced them with.
I love love LOVE connecting with people. I thrive on relationships and building friendships. Unfortunately, social media is usually how I fulfill this part of my life. But it often feels incomplete. If I’m thinking of or miss someone, I sometimes look at their feed and see what they’re up to. If this is all I do, they never even know I miss them or are thinking of them. But I didn’t have that option the last few weeks. So guess what I did?! I CALLED them! Or texted them! I went on walks with friends and out to breakfast and even made an effort to make NEW ones! I went to events that I wasn’t originally thrilled about, but then thoroughly enjoyed because I was connecting. Real life friendships are so underrated.
I went on dates with my husband. We realized we had been going on dates that we weren’t actually loving that much. So we switched them up and now we both know what we enjoy and we’re fulfilled. We had conversations about things that matter and about the future and our dreams and ideas. We had FUN. We played a lot of games and I won a lot of them, and Jason had practice graciously losing 😉 We decided originally that we weren’t going to waste any time spent together, which for us meant no TV. But sometimes you just have to relax and not use your brain so much. So we did watch TV occasionally, but it was educational; for example a documentary called Minimalism. Which brings me to my next point!
We got rid of things that were no longer serving much of a purpose for us, and created room for the things we love. I decluttered SO much of our home. I didn’t think we had that much but we really did. And still do. I went through closets and clothes and storage and all kinds of things. We’re even getting rid of our entertainment center this week which has served us well, but it’s definitely time to move on. And to be honest I can’t WAIT to replace it! Oh, and I made this! Isn’t it pretty?
We served. We actively sought out opportunities to put a smile on someone else’s face. It wasn’t always a big and spectacular gesture, but sometimes it was! It wasn’t always convenient, but service never is. I know I made others feel loved, appreciated, important, and I felt great in return. By doing this, I was also able to connect with people I wouldn’t have otherwise and build new friendships, which if you read this whole thing (good for you!) then you know how important that is to me.
We grew in our faith. We attended our local temple every single week, studied scripture together, and prayed often, and doing so has helped us feel closer to our Creator, and we’ve received guidance and light into our lives. Not to mention it has allowed us to spend more time together. We’ve received so many blessings. One of those being a new job opportunity for Jason that is exactly what we’ve been looking for. (I actually think we are constantly receiving blessings, but this month our eyes were open to see them.) I’m grateful for what I know to be true and for the renewed faith that I’ve gained over the last month, by truly keeping my Savior at the center of my life.
I learned a TON through my NTC course. I was productive with my time. I truly think I learned and retained more in the last 30 days than I have since I started the course. I was just focused and felt like I had no distractions. And my determination to help and teach others how to better care for their minds and bodies has increased ten-fold! I can’t wait to serve people in this capacity.
Jason asked me this question: If there was one thing that I learned from The Joy Project, what would it be? It took some time, but I think I’ve come up with it. “Stuff” can easily make me happy. I love my home, and my leggings, and my books! I have this succulent plant that makes me happy just looking at it. My computer makes me happy. And I love my bed more than I can even express in words. But I also know that I won’t be taking any of those things with me when I leave this world, no matter how much I love them. To me, true joy is created from the feelings and experiences and memories we make with the people we love. These are things that we can take ANYWHERE we go. Connections to our families, our friends, our neighbors, and our Savior, Jesus Christ are what will bring us the purest form of joy. I am committing to do my best not to take these things for granted.
I asked Jason the same question. His answer was much simpler and straight forward than mine, of course. He said joy is a process. You don’t achieve it in just a moment or a day. It takes practice and time. I love his answer.
(We took a lot of video over the course of the month and are working on a followup video to post as well. Stay tuned!)