Hi lovelies. This episode is devoted to joy, something that I don’t think we talk about enough. And what I want to share is how I became disconnected from joy and fell into the habit of choosing productivity, and the impact that ended up having on me.
So today, we’re going to explore how learning something new for the sake of cultivating joy can be one of the richest things you can ever do.
But before we dive in, I want to shout out Jill who left her review after listening to the podcast, she said:
“Dr Rebecca Ray’s episodes are crisp, poignant, and drilled directly down into the thing that promises to deliver. She doesn’t hold back in trying to help you break past the stumbling blocks of life but conveys it in the voice of the most loving and genuine friend, her advice, expertise. And God bless it. Honesty is a must-have lifeline. Thank you, Beck”
Jill! That is the most beautiful review. Thank you so much. And thank you to everyone who takes a couple of minutes to leave a review on whatever platform you listen to the podcasts on.
It makes a huge difference to podcasts, being able to reach more people when you leave a review. And I’m so grateful if you’ve done so thank you very much.
I’m going to talk about pottery. This might seem a bit random. It’s not usually a topic that I would cover on Hello, Rebecca Ray. But it’s a really important topic for today’s discussion.
Because the thing is, I actually can’t remember the last time I learned something that wasn’t related to work or parenting in my adult life. I don’t remember the last time that I actually just did something for the sake of learning it because it could bring me good feelings.
And I don’t know that I like that I don’t know that. I got to that assessment and thought, Oh, my goodness, this is great. In fact, I didn’t. I thought this is concerning.
And I’ll explain why. pottery, something I wanted to try for so long. I’ve always loved the look of it. I love the look of pottery itself. And I’ve loved the idea of creating pottery.
But I always just told myself that I never had time. And you know what, I really didn’t have time. Because I never made the time. And so, so often, when we tell ourselves that there is no time to do X, what we’re actually saying is, I don’t value X enough to make time for it. And that’s exactly where I was at.
Pottery seemed indulgent. It seems like something that retired creative people could do. But not me, because I had work to do. And so it never really entered my zone as a possibility of something that I can pursue.
So this year, instead of hoping that I would visit for a class, I found a local studio and booked myself into a course, I tend to work much better if I make a formal commitment to something.
So that means that I actually have to show up, I see a personal trainer, because it’s an appointment that’s in my calendar. And so I have to show up.
Whereas if I just leave it up to myself to go to the gym, it’s very hit and miss. And it was I knew it was going to be the same with pottery, particularly because pottery wasn’t something with a work outcome that I could tie to a sense of achievement or productivity.
So I especially wanted to use the accountability of doing a course of I would show up for the classes. Now the last time that I worked with clay was in one art class in high school. But you could say that I’m in a relationship with clay now. But let’s start from the start as to how all this came about.
I’m an overachiever. I don’t say that proudly, actually say that as a trait that I’m constantly working on modifying because of the impact that it has on my mental health.
It’s not always a useful thing and can often be something that holds you back if you put so much pressure on yourself.
And what that means is that productivity is easily addictive for me. I’m also a realist, not so much a pessimist, but a realist, I’m definitely not an optimist.
That means that I have a tendency towards anxiety and depression, if my mental health is not well managed as well, it’s really important that we be transparent about that.
Especially if you’ve ever been inspired by my work, I don’t want you to think that the person that you hear in podcast episodes or follow on Instagram is sitting here with absolutely no struggles.
In fact, I’d much rather you understand that. I do everything that I do with struggles so that you can understand for yourself that whatever you’re working through right now can be alongside you, and you can still do the thing.
What happened last year was I noticed that what I did for “fun”, and I’ll put “fun” in air quotes, because last year fun didn’t really exist for me. So what I did last year for fun, had become very much tied to achievement or productivity.
I’ve gotten into the habit of seeking feelings of satisfaction while failing to cultivate feelings of joy. So I turned toward anything that would give me a sense of achievement or satisfaction, rather than doing things that would just give me a sense of joy.
I devalued feelings of joy, and overvalued feelings of satisfaction and productivity. And the risk with this is an any habit really, is that dopamine, which is the neurochemical in the brain responsible for giving us a sense of pleasure and reward looks for certain sets of emotions and behaviours before it fires.
In my case, productivity and achievement became my go-to feelings. Work made me feel good. But I become disconnected from any activity that wasn’t associated with productivity.
This is actually really common for overachievers. So if you’re an overachiever, and you’re kind of nodding along right now I see you, I totally get it.
My brain had essentially forgotten how to prioritise joy and making and learning for the sake of it, rather than doing those things for some kind of formal outcome, which is what I do at work.
So the beginning of 2021 has seen me start retraining my brain in the direction of joy for joy sake. And I’ll tell you, I swim in clay.
So pottery is hard, much harder than it looks. And that means that I’ve had classes where I’ve ended up with clay in my hair, on my nose, in my ears, it’s a messy process.
But while I swim in clay, I think about nothing else, other than what my hands are doing, and I absolutely love it. The flow state is so enriching for my brain and mood.
And because of that, it’s something that not only have I welcomed into my life, but it’s something that I want to continue in my life, because it gives me such beautiful nourishment that I haven’t had access to in any other area of my life.
My word for the year, I don’t know whether you do words of the year, but I starting about two years ago, I started doing words for the year and I’ve really loved it. My word for this year in 2021 is energy.
And pottery has definitely boosted my energy. I’ll admit it, my wrists still shake from using muscles that I’ve not used before. So I didn’t actually realise how physical potteries, but it really is physical.
I’m talking about wheel throwing, by the way, not necessarily hand moulding or building. But I’ve been learning how to wheel throw, and it’s so physical. But as I progress, I promise that I no longer get clay in my ears or my nose.
So there is some progression here. And in case you’re an overachiever like me, and you have a tendency to turn towards productivity and overvalue those feelings, while devaluing feelings like joy as less important.
Then I want to leave you with some things that I’ve been reminded of and or learned while intentionally cultivating joy by learning something new for the sake of it.
If your brain is not given a chance to simply be, then you miss out on sparks of action. inspiration. And I think this is really important.
This is one of the most profound experiences that I’ve gotten out of doing pottery. And that’s that my brain actually opens up, I’m going to call it brain space. So during the hours that I’m sitting there trying to get a paste centred on the wheel, and covered in clay, I don’t think about anything else.
And that gives my brain is time to decompress, while also reinvigorating me with sparks of inspiration and creativity, it’s incredibly powerful.
The next thing is:
Patience is a virtue. And when I’m not fretting over the result that I’m trying to create, what shows up is always perfect.
And I see this in business too. So I’m taking the lessons that I’m learning from Pottery, the patience that I’m cultivating in pottery, and I’ll put my hand up and tell you, I have a PhD in impatience, right, I suck at being patient.
But the patience I’m cultivating with myself and with my progress in pottery, I see also applies to business, when you can let go of the result that you’re trying to cultivate.
Then what shows up is always perfect for where you’re at right now. Getting messy intentionally, is not something that we should stop doing after childhood. Honestly, one of the funnest is fun as to what it is now, let’s go with it.
One of the most fun things about pottery is just getting messy. And I didn’t realise how getting in touch with my inner child in that way, would feel so incredibly joyful, I absolutely love it.
The next thing is:
Time for me is the most unselfish thing that I can schedule because of who I am when I returned to my loved ones.
And if you have a tendency to put everyone first, and everything first, aside from your own self care, and I really want you to hear this one.
Time, for me is the most unselfish thing that I can schedule, because of who I am and who I become, when I returned to my loved ones.
When you fill up your cup, it’s who you are on returning to those people that love you to those people that need you, that makes all the difference you are worthy of this time.
The next thing is:
That you will suck at it the first time and the eighth time and maybe the 40th time as well. But do it anyway, do it anyway. Because what it will give you in return is profound.
The next thing is:
Being creative in a different direction is so much more rewarding than I expected it to be. And what I mean by this is I’m kind of creative on a daily basis.
So I’m creative with my writing and creative with the courses I designed for my students and how I show up on social media, I try to always make sure that I’m offering you something of value.
And that requires me to get creative and to think about it in a creative way. But I while I’d considered myself a creative person, I haven’t actually applied that to art as such, I mean, I guess you could call writing an art.
But I haven’t directed my creativity to anything outside of my writing for a long time. And to do pottery to make something for the sake of making something has been so rewarding.
The next thing is:
That even after four weeks, I could actually still fall back into devaluing the time for pottery if I let myself.
So like any new skills, making that time schedule in, that time habitually takes conscious effort until it doesn’t. And so, I’ve finished the pottery course right now, but I’ve also joined the studio as a member so that I can make this an ongoing weekly thing that I do.
Both to consolidate the skills but also to bring into my life, these nourishing activities as a habit, because it’s so worthwhile. I no longer see it as a waste of time. This retraining of my brain has really helped me see the value of joy and to valuate just as much as I would productivity or satisfaction.
So you could say that I guess the overachiever in me has tempered down a little bit to bring a different rhythm to my life. The next thing is that learning alongside other people creates a powerful sense of community and compassion and empathy.
I joined a course not knowing anyone else in the group, or anyone else in the course. And I loved sitting with people who were learning pottery for the first time as well. It was so valuable to connect on that level to all be beginners at the same time.
There’s something about connecting together, when you’re learning that makes it a really powerful process. And a funny process, I loved the injection of humour that we all had into the process.
Oh, and I’ll also add one right here. And that’s that humour is absolutely the best ingredient in everything. I think appropriate humour, humour that is.
The next thing is:
That I was lucky enough that I stumbled onto something that I thought I would like it and I did actually like it. If you don’t like what you choose, then please give yourself permission to choose something else.
And to keep choosing until you stumble on your thing. Because you may not like it first go, you may choose activities that aren’t for you. And you’ll only know that by trying.
But please keep trying other things until you find your thing, because the benefits far outweigh the effort of trying.
When you’re introducing learning for learning’s sake, joy, for joy sake, please make it easy. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be on yourself. That means to schedule a time that’s workable.
Make sure that it’s not financially, too much of a stretch for you. And remember that you don’t need to go all out now. Or ever. You don’t need to make it into something formal.
Like I don’t need to go out and buy a pottery wheel. I can just become a member and go to the studio once a week and make stuff and whether I keep that stuff or not doesn’t matter. It’s just part of the process.
And it can be the same for you. You don’t need to start a new hobby, you don’t need to start, I don’t know drawing and then enter your work into competitions. It doesn’t have to become a thing.
You can just do it for the sake of doing it and the joy it brings you. So lovely ones, I am sending you stacks of joy that I’m over here cultivating.
And if you’re there, and you’re thinking that productivity and achievement has become a little too loud in your life, then I really strongly encourage you to try something like this out. It’s definitely worked for me.
I’m going to catch you next week brighten early at 6am on Tuesday morning when the next episode drops.
Lovely ones thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray.
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