39 Reasons Joy Feels Out of Reach and How Simplicity Can Help
I have two puppy-obsessed daughters. They can’t see a puppy (or any dog) without immediately activating their high pitched squeal, “ohhhhhhhh….look at that puuuuuppy…!” It’s as if every single dog in the world is the cutest thing they’ve ever seen and they just might pass out due to the intensity of the cuteness.
I feel that – the love and joy so big it makes my heart ache – about them.
They ask for a puppy – a lot. In our heart of hearts, we’d love to give them a puppy. Fluffy, slobbery, and snuggly – preferably a lazy old lab whose life purpose is to receive belly rubs and face squishes. But when I brought up the “what if…” conversation to my husband his answer revealed a lot more about our season in life than I expected.
Making Room for Joy
Before we simplified our lives by decluttering, slowing down, and saying no to things that didn’t bring us real joy and sense of purpose (all of which are still in process!), I don’t remember having that deep, heart- aching joy about anything, other than for my kids. Of course, nothing compares to the kind of joy of becoming a parent, but over the last three years I’ve realized that there is an abundance of heart-aching joy in the world if I’m available to see it.
There’s a kind of joy that activates high pitched squeals, even if it’s just in your head, like my daughters have for puppies. I feel it deep in my soul when we head south to Baja California for a weekend of tacos, pan dulce, and orange and pink sunsets at our favorite beach hotel. And joy pangs shoot through me during summer evenings at night-time zoo with my family where the orangutans blow us kisses and the girls’ squeals are contagious.
But, sometimes we forget what that kind of joy feels like when life gets complicated, busy, and joy feels out of reach; numbed by the arrows we dodge each day. When life is a maze in the dark, we often miss the signs trying to lead us out.
Simplicity isn’t static
So when my husband responded to the… what if we get the girls a puppy idea with, “A puppy? We don’t have time for a puppy,” I had to accept something I’ve believed for a long time: simplicity isn’t a destination; it’s a process. I didn’t exactly expect him to agree to the idea, but I also didn’t expect this simple exchange would cause me to reevaluate our state of simplicity.
Have we not simplified enough? Are we too busy for a dog? What does that say about our simplicity? Where do we need to simplify, not just to handle caring for a family pet, but to allow more heart-aching joy and contentment?
If simplicity is a fluid process and not a static destination to arrive at, then it’s necessary, at least every now and then – and certainly when considering bringing in something new – to evaluate the current state of our simplification process. As we progress, elements of our lives will change: things will become clutter that weren’t considered as such a year ago and things we didn’t have time for six months ago suddenly will make their way back into the space we’ve created, joyfully.
If you haven’t evaluated your current state of simplicity in a while, or maybe you haven’t started simplifying yet and aren’t sure where you need it, maybe one or a few of these 39 common signs pointing you toward simplicity will prompt you to deeper reflection and ultimately, to more heart-aching joy.
39 Reasons Joy Feels Out of Reach and How Simplicity Can Help
- Feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks or routines
- Home isn’t a refuge
- Your values feel compromised by pleasing others
- You’re in debt
- You spend more time organizing than utilizing your stuff
- You don’t have time to do the things you love
- You don’t have time to for the people you love
- You’re depressed or anxious about your life and/or purpose
- You’ve run out of space in your home for your possessions
- Your spending habits are driven by trends and seeking acceptance from others
- You notice lack of gratitude in yourself or your family
- When feeling sad or hurt, your response is to fill the pain with new things, food, or busyness
- You’re afraid to let go
- You feel not good enough or lacking worth without certain things
- Comparison steals your joy
- You spend more time planning life than living it
- You’re losing sleep and general health due to emotional stress
- You keep things because you spent good money on them
- You have little time for yourself
- You speak negatively to yourself and others
- You’re overscheduled on a regular basis
- Your phone is your constant companion
- You’ve forgotten how to single-task
- You spend most of your day indoors, experiencing the artificial over the natural
- You don’t feel like yourself anymore
- You’ve lost, or haven’t yet found, your purpose for your life
- You rely on convenience of technology to avoid human interaction
- You’ve lost your wonder
- Social media has become more real than reality
- You struggle to say no
- You’re facing a traumatic or life-changing circumstance
- Your kids are struggling to keep up with their activities
- You immediately regret making commitments
- You can’t find things you need
- You’ve lost your joy for the things that used to bring you contentment.
- Your weekends are spent cleaning the garage instead of with your family
- “Valuables” are packed away in storage, taking up space for no good reason
- Your soul feels distant, unreachable, or even unavailable to you.
- Life feels unmanageable, heavy with worries and anxiety; and no day off, vacation, or break from the routine brings your soul rest.
As my family works through our own simplicity process during our current season, I hold close the hope that we are on our way to greater joys, maybe including a puppy. In the meantime, we consent to the process of simplicity, making room for more and savoring all the heart-aching joys already around us.
Because simplicity is the process that strips away the joy-stealing comparison, clutter, and the puppy blocking busyness. If you just reach out, clear the path, joy will rise right there in front of you.
Revive us again, Oh God! I know you will! Give us a fresh start! Then all your people will taste your joy and gladness. Pour out even more of your love on us! Psalm 85:6-7
I’m curious, which sign on this list is popping up in your life? Where is the process of simplicity leading you to next? For me, I’m currently working on #1, 15, and 22! Let me know yours in the comments!