to Out on a Limb,
a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine
is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in
M and Mís
Sometimes it is helpful to know what to do. In Julyís Limb, the topic of taking steps toward joy was explored. Sometimes it is just as helpful to know what NOT to do. How can we avoid those steps we might habitually take in the opposite direction of joy? In many 12-step fellowships, the message is very clear: to restore manageability, you are asked to abstain from the problematic behavior (drinking, drugging, or gambling, for example). This is not easy but at least you have absolute clarity about what you are not supposed to do.
In other 12-step fellowships, the message about what NOT to do is murky. For those in Al-Anon, it is very difficult to fully abstain from relationships with an alcoholic. In Overeaters Anonymous, you cannot abstain from eating but you might be advised to forego certain types of foods. It is just not clear-cut. If we are prone to self-sabotage or if self-discipline is not our number one strength, we might interpret guidelines offered to us more liberally than we should! And oh, can that swipe the joy out of life, right?
Here are some examples of activities or mindsets that minimize access to joy:
Excessive use of mood-altering substances
Poor self-care (overwork, insufficient rest, avoidance of medical appointments)
Glass half-empty belief system
Insistence on being right
Poor boundaries or limits (with others, with self)
So, if you want to know what NOT to do, I could be as flip as Bob Newhart once was and just say ďStop it!Ē Stop doing anything on this (incomplete) list; it is so easy to say, but virtually impossible to pull off. Two words come to mind: moderation and mindfulness. Some people really can pull off a moderate use of mood-altering substances without relinquishing joy (but some really cannot). If you were to moderate the amount of time you spend working, even if it just means scheduling an alarm on your phone or computer to remind you to step away from your workspace for a five- to 30-minute break, that could help. Some people really can be more open-minded or less prone to pessimism if they practice more mindfulness. Consider a daily dose of M and Mís: not the candy, but Moderation and Mindfulness to help you avoid that which has you walking away from joy.
A Readerís Question
After reading July’s Limb, one reader wrote to ask if my family life was as idyllic as it sounded. NOT! I choose to focus on the positive lessons and steps toward joy that were modeled for me by members of my family. Suffice it to say that the activities listed above were inspired, in part, by observations within my family. I would argue that all families have their plusses and minuses, and mine was no exception. We needed a big dose of M and M’s.
You May Have Noticed
This August Limb is being sent to you via the services of Mail Chimp, rather than Constant Contact. I chose to change providers due to reports from some readers about difficulties they were having with reading this newsletter in their e-mail. I hope those problems have cleared up. Otherwise, there should be no noticeable difference in what you receive. Thanks to those who have written to me, and please feel free to let me know if there are any other issues.
Your August 2014 Prompts for Joy
Click here to see what I meant when I mentioned Bob Newhart, above. Guaranteed laughs.
Click here for a nice anthem that reminds us to be kinder to ourselves.
Many thanks to Monika Hartwig and Sue Murray for laughter and inspiration both in these videos, and in my life.
Joy-Gram for August 2014
Either use the anthem offered in the Prompts for Joy section, or make it a project to find (or write!) your own. This is a song that you can come back to often and that will remind you to pursue joy or minimize what detracts from joy in your life. And there is no rule that says you can only have one!
By no means
do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume
that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for
myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this
pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience
of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!
Martha Clark Scala, MFT · 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 ·