I’ve found a bunch of pretty fabrics in the attic, which have just been lying around since they seemed to precious to use (a habit that I’m glad I ditched – beautiful things are for using, not to be left to a slow and invisible death in a box in the attic!). Seeing them instantly made me want to sew something. Then came the inevitable „I really should do something with these fabrics!“
1. Know yourself.
That’s how it goes, right? „It would be nice to do …“ turns into „I really should be doing …“ Add a „because it’s good for you“ and the whole thing’s dead. For me anyway. I blame the inner child. She rejects anything „good“ (or „healthy“) by default, not even to mention the „musts“. It doesn’t even matter that it’s fun things. So how to deal with that?
2. You don’t need to change your goals, just change the course.
I don’t know about you but I can never win over my inner child. And that’s really a good thing, since she’s actually me! The way I see it, it’s about finding a way to win myself over. I don’t need to want make myself want something else, I just need to use different words and phrases. In child language, things are simply how they are. I would like something made out of my precious fabrics, and I love being surrounded by things made by me. Not because that’s „good for me“, or „handmade“ or any other grown up word. The real reason is the one that is completely justified by kid logic: because. It’s just what I want.
3. Make it easy for yourself.
Maybe you think that should be enough motivation to get going. Ha! So not. It’s not just your inner child you need to get on board with your plans. There’s that couch potato, too. And words aren’t enough to get her going. With my sewing project I ended up booking a class. I know myself enough to know that when I sign up for something, I’ll show up. Especially when I paid in advance! The couch potato may not be completely sold at that point, but it’s a first step.
4. Don’t wait for the couch potato to disappear. Just bring her along.
My inner couch potato obviously did not feel like going to the sewing class when the day came. When I explained that she could just tag along, and not feel like going all the way there, and all the way through class feel like not doing anything, she finally caved. After two days of sewing classes (and yes, the couch potato me didn’t feel like going the second day, either), I had fixed the hem of a favorite dress which had been ripped years ago, made three pillow cases, and learned a ton of stuff about sewing technique. Plus I realized that I prefer my amateur way ignoring technique for the most part and simply do it the way I feel. Too lazy to be a perfectionist.
5. Be proud of yourself.
The dress may be repaired but it has been too big for ages, the pillow cases may be pretty but honestly, I could have saved myself the trouble and just gone and bought some for the money of the class. That is the inner critic’s evaluation of this outing. Of course she had to put her two cents in, that’s what she’s there for. That’s also why I don’t beat myself up over her judgement but I keep in mind that she always finds fault with everything. It’s her job. Luckily there’s that inner child, too. The part of me that adores everything I do, and that sees the good in everything. My inner child was excited that the dress could be worn again – whether by me or anyone else didn’t matter. My inner child loved the pillow cases, and found the priceless, of course – because it was I who made them exactly how I wanted them! Which store sells that?!
6. Share your genuine appreciation.
Genuinely appreciating what we ourselves created is really a way of acknowledging that something was not so much created by us but through us. Technically that’s gratitude. That is something entirely different from demanding others‘ approval, which stems from doubt. When we doubt that something amazing can come into the world through us, it’s because we are under the illusion that what we do is our work alone.
This is inner critic territory: we could make a fool of ourselves, come off as bragging, be crushed by others‘ judgement or on the other hand define ourselves by our accomplishments and become addicted to others‘ praise.
The inner child is connected to the truth: she just wants to show the world the miracle that worked its way into the world through her hands. Not because she’s wondering what the others think of it, or because she wants to „accomplish“ anything beyond her work. It doesn’t even cross the inner child’s mind that her own assessment of her work could be separated from the world’s, that her value as a being could somehow depend on her „accomplishment“, or that she could have any hidden agenda. She is simply amazed by what sprang from her imagination into this physical world. She wants nothing other than sharing her appreciation for that. Nothing to do with being „immodest“ or „show-offy“ or desperate to be liked. It’s a form of expressing gratitude.
And whatever we express gratitude for, we receive more of. That is good soil for future motivation. So let’s be genuine and share our appreciation. In all areas of life.
Writing that post On Wanting and Being Content made me think more about appreciation. To be more specific, it made me think more about the aspect of expressing appreciation, and what role it plays in the entire process of getting what we want.
I have noticed that when it comes to attracting good things into my life, they come easily when I am putting very little (or rather: very light) energy into the thought of wanting them. Almost as if I am not even really aware I want them. It’s like the thought „Oh, this would be nice“ just kind of flies by, and I only remember it when I suddenly receive whatever it was I thought would be nice.
For instance, a friend posted something on Facebook about how she had gathered so much burlap that she was able to make 6 lbs of pesto from it. That friend was nowhere in my vicinity at that time, so when I commented how cool I thought that was and how much I loved burlap, it was not a subtle way of inviting myself over for dinner. I just wrote what I thought. A few days later, another friend came to visit. She brought me a bunch of burlap. Yes, I know, it’s technically possible that she saw my comment (she didn’t mention it, though).
Still, it felt like the lightness with which I had expressed my appreciation of burlap had kind of send out a message, and someone who was in charge of bringing people joy had just picked it up, and thought „Oh, here’s someone who shows appreciation of burlap. We’re in the business of bringing people joy, so let’s send this lady some burlap.“
Maybe this all sounds very silly because, seriously, who gets that excited about burlap?! I know, but here’s what I believe: when we are able to wish for something with lightness, it’s easy to have that wish fulfilled. I believe that whoever is in charge of this Business of Bringing People Joy likes it when we ask for things out of a state of „This would bring me joy but my life’s happiness is not dependent on it. If you can do it, it would make me happy – but I’ll still be happy if it doesn’t work out“. That’s why it’s so easy to have those seemingly small and not very significant wishes fulfilled – because those are the ones I am capable of sending out there with that kind of lightness. Like expressing that I enjoy burlap.
When it comes to The Big Ones however … Not so easy maintaining that sort of attitude, that’s why they are The Big Ones, right? They are the wishes we feel are important, the ones our happiness depends on. So is the reason why it’s harder to have those fulfilled that the folks at The Business of Bringing People Joy don’t like it when we pressure them with desperate requests? Maybe they don’t like it when we burden them with the claim that our entire life’s happiness is dependent on our satisfaction with a specific order we placed? Maybe. Here is what I believe:
I believe that the communication between us customers and folks at the BBPJ is off a little sometimes. OK: a lot, and like, all the time. And like with any order we place with any company these days, we click on the button that says „Yes, I agree to the terms of service“ without actually reading the fine print. Because, seriously, who has time for that?! We just kind of trust that it’ll be alright. And it is. After all, it’s The Business of Bringing People Joy. However, if we did bother to open the file with the terms of agreement we’d find out it’s actually not that much, and the rules are very simple:
1. You get exactly what you ask for. To the t. Because the employees at the BBPJ are a very literal bunch, and they would get into serious legal trouble if they gave you anything you hadn’t asked for.
2. Your order is not just the words you use, it’s also the emotions behind it. And again: they take you very literally. If there is ease behind your request, you get your order with ease. If there is pressure in it, pressure is what you get. And so forth. You get it.
3. Maybe you’ve heard that if you want to remember something, you should tell yourself „Remember to do xyz“ because if you tell yourself „Don’t forget xyz“ you’ll actually forget because the mind doesn’t really know how to compute the words „don’t“ and „not“, and just skips them. The BBPJ works just like that. They don’t understand the words „not“ and „don’t“, so they just skip them. So always use positive descriptions to place your order. For instance: instead of saying „I don’t want more burlap“, place an order that states what it is you want instead.
4. And, the most important rule of communication: you place your order by thinking and through your actions. Your orders are prioritized, that’s why not every single thought and every single action is being answered right away. It’s all about focus. To the employees at the BBPJ „focus“ is „appreciation“. They assume that you want more of whatever it is your focusing on, so naturally those orders have top priority. Again, they take the emotions behind your focus into consideration when processing your order. That is why customers who seemingly place similar orders may receive services/products of varying quality.