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is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in
I conducted a casual experiment, recently. In several conversations, I mentioned the word, manageability, to describe a desirable state of being. To say it fell on deaf ears is an understatement. It was as if I had spoken a word from some very foreign language. I saw facial expressions that ranged from blank (as in “nobody’s home”) to benign (no big reaction positive or negative) to bemused (as in “what the heck is she talking about?”). Who would want to strive for manageability? I guess some view this state as rather dull, or even worse: unsexy and unappealing. But what if it might bring more joy? Are peace, serenity, ease and less drama that unattractive?
In this casual experiment, I took note of factors or situations that create or contribute to unmanageability in our lives. This is not an exhaustive list but it might make you feel exhausted! For starters, we have: addiction, debt or other financial distress, cell phone never turned off, poor work/life balance, inadequate self-care, excessive amounts of time in a car, acute grief, troubled close or collegial relationships, poor mental or physical health, and overwhelming stress. Any one of these might be a recipe for trouble. Unfortunately, some of them are beyond our control. For example, if there is a bad vibe with a colleague or boss, the fix for more manageability could be to get another job. But what if that is not an option, for any number of reasons? Some people have to choose short-term situations that are unmanageable just to pay the bills, keep the peace in their household, or right some previous wrong.
At this point, I hear a solid voice of reason in my head – it could be my dear grandfather’s – that says, “You do what you can.” I do not hear it as a platitude. Rather, it is a gentle directive to focus on that which we can alter to create more manageability. What might shift if we took a moment or three each day to assess where there is unmanageability, and then brainstormed options for reducing it? I suspect a whole lot more joy could emerge. Call me crazy but I look forward to the day when our desire for manageability surpasses that centrifugal pull toward drama, disorder, or dysfunction.
The Either/Or Monster
In a short newsletter like this, my discussion of this topic may appear to have an either/or formulation. Manageability: good. Unmanageability: bad. It is nowhere near that simple. This is merely an invitation to consider the plus-side of more manageability. Taken to an extreme, however, a longing for manageability could lead to a rather arid, predictable life. We do need stimulation and newness, too. The gray region allows for both solidity and enthusiasm, or steadiness as well as expansion. A delicate and perhaps elusive balance but let’s go for it!
In Neil Simon’s comedy classic, The Odd Couple, fastidious Felix Unger is pitted against his good friend: sloppy, unpredictable Oscar Madison. They exemplify an either/or formulation and as such, are caricatures, and both of their lives are unmanageable! As the two main characters respond to living with their opposite, each comes to see some value in how the other operates. Both Felix and Oscar grow beyond their caricatured tendencies. Ideally, we integrate some combination of Felix and Oscar as we strive toward an interesting, not boring, manageability.
Your November 2015 Prompts for Joy
Click here for a blast-to-the-past with Wednesday and Lurch of The Addams Family.
Click here for a poignant lecture from a daughter to her Mom about more manageability.
All previous Prompts for Joy (PFJs) can be found at my website, unless the video url is no longer functional.
Joy-Gram for November 2015
What one thing could you do differently to make your life more manageable? How ‘bout trying that?
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 ·