Seeking Solace

Seeking joy and balance

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

If someone told me months ago that my life would improve if I just focused on what brings me joy, I would’ve laughed. That’s kind of a no-brainer, right? Of course doing what I love, doing what makes me happy, would make my life better. That seems like the simplest life change I could make.

However, life isn’t simple.

In times of stress, I’ll be the first to admit the activities I enjoy are often the ones that give a false sense of productivity. I sequester the parts of myself that don’t feel productive and helpful for what is going on — which is a whole other problem all on its own.

I lose sight of what matters to me the most when I feel like deadlines and projects are looming over me. I forget how happy I am when I do take the time to work out, dance like a total lunatic or hang out with the people who are the most important to me. This sort of stress-based amnesia robs me of moments of happiness.

Despite my status as a millennial, I find my soul is that of a suburban mom. I love a glass of wine with dinner, any song by Michael Bublé and embarrassing dance moves. I love reading books related to self-help and home organization, for example: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, which was recently adapted into a hit Netflix show.

Now, Marie Kondo is a genius at finding what sparks joy in one’s home. She tells her clients to hold each item they own, whether it be books, sweaters or CDs, and figure out if that object truly sparks joy in their hearts and has a purpose. I don’t know many other 22-year-olds who frequently go back to Kondo’s first book, but I find the concept of surrounding oneself with the items that are useful, particularly helpful when battling with the stresses of day-to-day life.

It’s important to fill one’s life with people and activities, as well as objects, that spark joy. This isn’t to say pushing that 10-page paper to the side will be beneficial, but doing what one has to early on makes space to be able to do the things that matter the most.

Personally, I find that it depends on the day and my mindset for what will bring me joy. There are days when I want to dance around the house singing along to ABBA songs and there are days that I want to wrap myself up in fuzzy blankets and drink a hot cup of tea. These days aren’t about avoiding responsibility in favor of escaping to a world where my obligations don’t exist. Instead, they are my most recent attempt to take care of myself in a crazy busy world.

What brings a person joy doesn’t have to be a physical object or day spent doing what that person loves, it could be spending times with friends and family that makes the major difference. I find that I always feel happier and more ready to tackle whatever tasks I need to finish when I’ve had time with those who matter the most.

A major aspect of self-love and self-care is the ability to value oneself and one’s time. I know when I’m stressed I devote too much time to negative emotions.

This week, my goal is to focus on joy. I will spend my time being productive and finding joy. I will seek out the activities and people which truly make me happy, and try to keep the demons of self-doubt at bay.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].