Brené Brown, in her beautiful book The Gifts of Imperfection, has a wonderful exercise: List your “ingredients for joy and meaning,” she instructs.
It’s a powerful exercise because, for most of us, the ingredients are pretty simple; and they don’t cost very much. For me, they’re a long gentle run along the coast, feeling the wind on my face on a mountaintop, having the time to read a good book, sitting on my porch looking out at the sea, or sharing a simple meal and a glass of wine with my wife, my best bud, Ann.
But, for some reason, many of us lose track of our ingredients. Instead we race around looking for new and exciting places to go, and the latest shiny toys to buy. (Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel, and I really like nice toys.) We plan grand things for the year ahead and often end up exhausted and depleted. (Do you remember that last vacation that you had to go back to work to rest up from?) And we wonder why we’re missing out on joy and meaning.
We focus single-mindedly on the destination (as success driven folks tend to do); and neglect the journey. We get lost in the doing rather than the being.
Maybe Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz had it right. Maybe our heart’s desires aren’t so far away after all.
Maybe joy and meaning are here. Right in front of us.
As we live into this last quarter of the year, it might be worthwhile to remember the ingredients. Our ingredients.