Sparking Joy and “No”

One of the questions I often ask in my capacity as coach is “what resonates with you?” That may be sort of woo-woo language, but it gets at something fundamental about feelings and desires, which, in turn can give us access to deep reserves of motivation and excitement around something.

To have something resonate with you is different than “liking” something or approving of it or wanting to do it. Resonance comes, I believe, from your gut, your instinct and is an internal nod of the head of sorts that says, “oh, yes; that fits.” When I think of the concept of resonance, I picture really clearly the room in which I took yoga classes during my first pregnancy. As I got bigger and bigger, I had to modify more and more poses; even setting up for the final resting pose was an ordeal full of props and supports. But after an hour of working with my awkward body and finally getting into shavasana, I would sink into my blankets and listen to the Tibetan singing bowl the teacher rang. I love the sound of those bowls and how the room and the air and your body seem to vibrate at the same frequency as the bowl as you listen to it ring. That ringing sound filled the room and our bodies and “resonated.” But not just with the people lying on their yoga mats. The fetus inside me, as she grew larger and more mobile, LOVED that sound. Every time the bowl would ring, my womb would shimmy and vibrate and do somersaults. The sound resonated that deeply within me.

What resonates with you at that deep level?

joySome people might use Marie Kondo’s notion of “sparking joy” as a synonym for resonating with. In her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo has us walk through our homes and, according to category, pick up and HOLD every single thing we own. With the item in our hands, we are supposed to decide whether or not it sparks joy. Only those items that truly spark joy for us get to remain; everything else gets discarded or donated.

Of course, sometimes we have to hold onto, or keep doing, things that neither spark joy or resonate with us. The treadmill, the lawnmower, the long commute in traffic, appeasing a toxic boss, etc. I think what Kondo and I are both getting at, though, is that surrounding ourselves with things that spark joy in us and tasks that resonate with us is not only likely to make us happier, it is likely to make us more productive. Kondo claims that a home filled with only the essential things that spark joy will make your home environment peaceful and efficient (so much less cleaning around things!). (For the record, I think the first part of the book where you sort through your stuff is gold. Part II, where she explains how to follow the Kon-Marie method all the time left me completely cold. I will not fold my socks to look like wee cinnamon rolls. Nosiree.) I claim that investing as much time as possible in those activities and tasks that resonate with you and fill you up means that your best hours, your best time will be devoted to the things you are best at.

Yes, you have to do odious things occasionally. But don’t spend your time trying to improve your performance in odious things. Don’t say yes to things that don’t spark joy. When you say yes to the tasks and activities and collaborations that elicit a resonant “yes!,” then you are planning on spending your time in ways that leave you satisfied and connected and ready for more.

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