In coaching, we are often looking for ways to invite clients into new insights. Because when we are stuck, or looking for creative new ideas or solutions, a new perspective is what can shift us out of our normal outlook. The irony is that while one part of us longs for this creativity and newness, another part of our brain is pushing us towards routine and repetition because that is more energy efficient. And just as we feel that push/pull within ourselves between the desire to move and exercise, which we know will ultimately make us feel good, and our body’s desire to conserve energy by keeping us on the couch – that struggle exists within our brains and our way of seeing the world too.
Increasingly, I love finding small ways to shake up my thinking. Things that I can adopt relatively easily, try on and see if they stick. A recent practice is to identify a ‘word’ that is not regularly part of my repertoire, of how I define myself or the world and then journal about it daily.
Here’s my most recent experience. I started the year with the word ‘delight’ (why I chose that word is another story). Delight is not a word I use often. Nor was I sure when I would use it in relation to myself. So I started journaling daily in response to the question: Where did I find delight today? For the first few days I struggled to come up with anything. My inner monologue went something like this… what is delight anyway? I think I prefer words like joy or happiness… I’d rather journal about those… delight makes me think of the Apple slogan ‘surprise and delight’ in reference to their products and I know that the last thing I feel when trying to get the packaging off or manage a new upgrade is delight… And then my brain started to settle and I noticed that there were things that felt delightful: I felt delight when I found a receipt I needed to check a claim, I felt delight in putting on a pair of pink rain boots, I felt delight when I saw an unexpected rainbow on last walk with my Mum before heading back to the US…. Suddenly it was not hard to find things that delighted me and to really notice them.
Over a few weeks I came to a few personal conclusions and insights:
- For me delight is almost always something unexpected. Something that I wasn’t looking for. And if I’m not paying attention, something that I might not even notice or appreciate
- Delight has a child-like quality – I feel a bubble of excitement at this sensation – and it makes me feel lighter for as long as I can carry the sensation with me. This also reminds me that I have a tendency towards the serious that can be overwhelming if I am not paying attention.
- Delight is also often in the small, the easily ignored
- It feels to me like an adrenaline boost (although I suspect it is dopamine) that lifts my mood and can switch my focus.
- etc. etc.
You get the drift… and these are very personal to me. Someone else might have a completely different experience. But the point is that it’s brought me into more awareness of the small delights that can have a disproportionate impact on my day. I think I may be almost done with this prompt word and am going to look for another word to take into the coming month. Hopefully continuing to experience delight as I do!
If you’re interested in something similar, my invitation would be to pick a word that doesn’t roll off your tongue easily (I’ve listed a few below but google can invite you into any more – or just go for a walk and look for something to jump out at you and then note down once a day ‘where did I notice xxx in my life today?’ and see what starts to come up over the course of a week or two. Happy exploring!
Note: the flowers in the picture are from a moment of pure delight last week when the cashier in the store noticed that my 8 year old and I were having a rough moment and dashed off to add a bouquet and a lollipop to our shopping. Both of us were equally delighted and it transformed our day!
Words to get started with: delight*compassion*trust*emotion*balance*peace*laughter*harmony*courage*peace*humor*depth*integrity*openness*joy*understanding*love*curiosity*quirkiness*gifts*… you get the picture!