“The difference between a life lived actively, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immense difference. Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.”—Adrienne Rich
So far, we’ve started to move towards doing the things we care about and living with more joy in 2019 by reclaiming time and focus- and along the way, we took a serious look at how we decide what we value and how time and focus slip away from us.
Now, we’re going to raise the ante. Time to commit. This is the scariest part of making meaningful life changes for most of us- sometimes we associate commitment with being trapped, losing options, maybe even freedom or individuality.
A lot of the signaling we get today tells us that when we don’t do everything, or at least do our damndest to try, we’re a bad or lazy (worker, mother, father, person).
When you make a firm, final commitment to someone or something, you fear:
- You might miss out on an event.
- You might miss an opportunity.
- You may regret your choice after time passes or upon reflection.
Let’s address those fears right now.
A lot of these concerns about commitment come from the reality that when we commit to doing something, we don’t do something else. Every choice is a thousand renunciations. When we say to one thing, we say no to a thousand others. Our choices matter.
Today, study after study shows that it is our social connections that are the single biggest driver of our health and happiness. To put it bluntly, FOMO is killing you. The fear that other people and other experiences away from your present moment are more important is not only stealing away the moment -- it’s stealing your life.
Annie Dillard writes, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” If we spend those days in fear, we’ll live a fearful life with regrets. If we spend them in love, giving our time and presence to the people right in front of us, we will live a loving life with few regrets.
Committing is the key.
Did you know that the average Dane is committed to an average of 3-5 social groups? That means, most evenings a week are spent on active hobbies and deepening social connections in their community. This is one of the top reasons cited for Denmark consistently topping the World Happiness Report.
Committing to people and places have long-reaching effects. It tells our long-term memory and our spirit that “these are things I value.” It tells our minds to devote more focus, strength, and energy on maximizing the quality of our relationships with them. In short, making and proclaiming our commitments help them LAST.
One more thing (actually two)...
Add In These Two Commitments For A Bigger Life With More Joy in 2019
So, I’ve said a lot about how committing can bring purpose and joy to your life, but how to enact it?
How do you know what you need most? That’s easy. You need what you’re missing. Deep down, you already know what you’re missing in your life. Just say “My life needs…” and I can almost guarantee an inner voice will finish the sentence for you. Say it out loud- that’s a great expression of intentionality.
Here are two excellent, actionable steps to get you started:
1) Begin and End Your Day with Intention
The goal is to spend each of our days moving away from what hinders joy and moving toward that which gives life. Have a daily ritual - a morning and evening exercise that adds value to your day. An excellent first step is a simple practice of reflecting on these two questions right before you go to sleep: “What today was most life-giving and what was most life-taking?” Set aside a specific, consistent time to do this- in other words, commit- and work towards making it a part of every day. A five-minute journal might help. I just started using one and I love it.
2) Choose Active Life over Passive Hobbies.
Be a Joiner - commit to at least 2 weekly social commitments. Once you’ve done this, you’ve done yourself a big favor: the decision is made. No more deciding in the moment whether to go out or watch Netflix. When other people are depending on you to show up, when you’ll hurt or offend others by not honoring your commitments, it goes a long way to motivate you not to (this is why people often work out together to keep each other accountable).
What’s an active vs. passive hobby or activity? It’s actually pretty simple, and I discuss it a lot in The Joy of Missing Out. An active hobby is something that requires you to think, make decisions, or act- a passive one brings or does those things for you. Poker night with friends is an active hobby- you’ve got to use your mind to play the game and your social skills to interact at the table. Watching TV is passive. The more active- whether physical, emotional, or mental- the better it is, and the more purpose and joy it will bring to your life.
I wish you every success making joyful commitments and pursuing them- but I also acknowledge that it’s difficult. I mentioned accountability before, and it’s important with just about every meaningful commitment- which is why I encourage you to join the JOMO community I’m building.
Subscribe to Daily JOMO for affirmations and activities like these to help you take control of your joy, and of course, by becoming a patron, you’ll join other like-minded people (including me!) that can give you the ongoing support, insight, and encouragement you need.
You’ve begun charting a new course. Congratulations.
I wish you a joyful 2019!