Brené Brown talks about an “Ingredients for joy and meaning” list in The Gifts of Imperfection. She and her husband made a list about what their lives look like when things are going well in their family. Things on her list included sleep, working out, healthy food, cooking, time off, weekends away, going to church, being present with the kids, a sense of control over our money, meaningful work that doesn’t consume us, time to piddle, time with family and close friends, and time to just hang out” (102).
I had never heard of or thought of creating an “Ingredients for Joy and Meaning” list. But I have definitely heard of and made plenty of “To-Do” lists. And unfortunately for me, most of the things on my “To-Do” list will not be incorporated on an “Ingredients for Joy and Meaning” list.
When I first read about this list, I thought “what a great idea!” I told myself I would create that list and of course I have yet to make that list. But as I write about this kind of list, I find myself confronting a few things. The first thing is my perfectionistic nature that wants to make sure everything on this uncreated list is “perfect, truly meaningful, and truly joyful.” This list has become a task to perfect, rather than a curious exploration. Secondly, when I think about the question “what does my life look like when things are going well” I get a little anxious thinking “what if I make this list and then things start to go poorly or what if I can’t think of anything?” Needless to say I should go back and read my post from last week about holding good and bad times with a sense of openness.
But here I am encouraging those that read this to take Brené Brown’s challenge to write an “Ingredients for joy and meaning” list, and I would like to follow my own words.
So here are a few things on my list of “When things in my life are going well it is filled with...”
As I quieted myself and made this list, I found myself smiling as I listed different things. Answering this question was of course not at all like my initial anxiety driven/task oriented questions that I mentioned above. Making this list was life-giving and recentered me toward my values and what matters most to me. And I hope that if you take a moment to make your own list that it does the same for you - if not today, then some day.
May we all find our individual spices that bring us joy and meaning.