I've been thinking about Marie Kondo's techniques versus Queer Eye's. They both come into a messy home and make it better, but Marie empowers her clients to take control of their own lives while Queer Eye makes fun of all the bad decisions their clients have made and then give their lives a facelift. I like to think of life coaching as part of the Marie Kondo school of support. I don't tell anybody how to live; people already know the best way to live for them. I help them hone their sensitivity to happiness so that they can access and act on that knowledge. The thing is, most of us aren't building lives based on what we want. Consider how much of your daily life is shaped by shoulds:
I should be eating more fiber
I shouldn't date someone when I just got out of a relationship
I should be having more sex
I shouldn't go on vacation to a place I've already been
I shouldn't read young adult fiction as an adult
I should pack lunch
I shouldn't go to bed so late
I should be grateful that they stopped by
No wonder we get decision fatigue. All our actions are wrapped up in guilt, advice from experts, and a sense of failure. We are just trying to keep up with all the demands. We forget that what we want actually matters. We forget how to know what we want in the first place. I have an antidote to this. I've been using it with clients for the past year, but watching Tidying Up inspired me to share with you all.
This tool is perfect if you are:
resentful of the demands on your time
constantly feeling like your tank is low
jealous of how good other people seem to have it
nervous around stuff that is supposed to be fun (your birthday, parties, vacation)
This tool has helped me out of all those feelings.
it makes me feel in control of my life
it reminds me that I am the expert on me, so I don't have to check with other people before making decisions
it makes me more clearheaded about what I'm okay with and what I'm not okay with
it helped me redefine "fun" for myself, so that I don't do things other people think of as fun and then get annoyed that I'm not enjoying myself
so, here is the tool:
"What sounds fun?"
Like Marie Kondo’s "what sparks joy?", this question empowers you to be the expert on your own life. And it prioritizes your happiness. You know how Marie emphasizes the importance of honing your sensitivity to joy? That's a real thing. It's actually a skill to know what makes you happy. I practice this question often so that I can hold my own awareness of what is fun for me. I've been surprised by my answers. Asking what sounds fine is a way to check and let myself in the moment. It's as if I'm asking, what would energize you right now? What would fit with your mood? It takes me out of victim mode. Shoulds make me feel trapped and pathetic. I'm forced to choose between the cheapest item on the menu and the healthiest one.
When I focus on fun, I suddenly feel like I'm the author of my book – not just the protagonist. I might even think, "it sounds fun to order ramen, but we have a lot of groceries in the house, so what drink would be fun to order?” or “so what would be fun to make it home?” I preserve the focus on fun while honoring my commitments to myself. I've noticed that when we come from a place of shoulds, fun becomes a mysterious energy that sometimes passes through us. We hope something will be fun but we feel like we have no actual control over whether or not fun happens.
When fun is a part of the decision-making process, joy in inevitable. Yesterday was Valentine's Day. My boyfriend was sick and I was working late. Little shoulds got into my brain: "we should be doing something romantic! One of us should be making an effort!" But I remembered that I can make my own fun. So I asked myself what sounds fun?, and the answer was "by Betty Crocker mix, make cake, ice it with Nutella.” Do-able. Fun.
Then the oven broke.
Okay, what sounds fun now? Guacamole and lighting a candle.
I actually get chills as I write this because it is wild to discover that I have an answer to this question every time I ask it. And if I don't actually ask the question, answers that don't come. Of course, sometimes this question isn't right for the occasion. But if you are having fun on a regular basis, you'll feel more gracious and generous. You won't need to prioritize fun when a loved one wants to have a hard conversation or you have to do administrative tasks at work. Your cup will be full.
What's more, you are the expert on you. If you have been prioritizing your desires all day, a difficult conversation won't feel thrust upon you, it will be something you are choosing. Try it right now. After you close this tab, what sounds fun? I'm going to do it with you. To me, what sounds fun right now is dancing to the song Delicate by Taylor Swift after I end this article because I am home alone for the next 10 minutes.
Comment below and let me know what answer comes up for you!
I hope you have fun today,