Thinking Outloud

Feeling Overwhelmed by Holiday Hoopla? Go on a Joy Diet!

Feeling Overwhelmed by Holiday Hoopla? Go on a Joy Diet!

As the mid-winter darkness surrounds us, holiday celebrations are fast approaching. We are on the brink of the biggest consumption season of the year. Too much food, too much to do, too many gifts, too much money spent……the list goes on. It’s overwhelming!!!!

Here is a suggestion. Go on a Joy Diet! You may be asking if it’s possible to find real joy this season, and in these times, we are living through. The world news is horrendous, people are very cranky, travel sucks and most things cost too much.

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? An inner journey may be just the ticket. Go on a Joy Diet!!

The practices that make up the Joy Diet create a direct connection between your conscious thinking mind and the deepest parts of you that know what your heart and soul longs for. Here is a hint: it is not another cookie!

The Joy Diet, at its best may just reveal what we have been hiding from the world and even from ourselves.

What are you keeping under wraps that your life, your work, perhaps even the world needs?

In my family we were taught to keep our “brilliance” carefully hidden, least we antagonize or otherwise make uncomfortable someone who could hurt us. My brothers and I were only a few generations out from the Irish & German immigrants who arrived here as indentured servants at the beginning of the 20th century. For them, there were good reasons to not rock any boats. Pursuing one’s authenticity was not going to contribute to overall survival.

And 100 years later we are all living in the aftermath the pandemic in a world filled with war & suffering. The Covid crisis may have created devastating effects for you and your loved ones. It may have also revealed the simple desire for a more meaningful existence. Once again, I say, go on a Joy Diet. It can light the path out of exhaustion, confusion, crisis & heartbreak. It can lead you to knowing what is truly your heart’s desire.

The Joy Diet – Daily Menu Items

#1. NOTHING: to begin the Joy Diet, you must do nothing for at least 15 minutes per day.
#2. TRUTH: Create & absorb at least one moment of truth each day
#3. DESIRE: Identify, articulate & explore at least one of your heart’s desires.
#4. CREATIVITY: Conceptualize & write down at least 1 new concrete idea that will help you obtain something your heart desires.
#5. Do at least 1 frightening thing that contributes to the fulfillment of your desires.
#6. TREATS: Give yourself 3 really good treats, 1 for every risk you take & 2 just because you are you.
#7. PLAY: Take a moment to remember your real life’s work & differentiate it from the games you play to achieve it. Then play wholeheartedly.
#8. LAUGHTER: Make sure that you laugh at least 30 times per day.
#9. CONNECTION: Use menu items #1-#5 in at least 1 interaction with a person who is important in your life.
#10. FEASTING: Have at least 3 square feasts per day. This may involve food. Then again it may not.

If all 10 menu items of the Joy Diet seem like too big of a bite (pun intended), let’s begin by committing to the Joy Diet Waltz, 1-2-3, 1-2-3.

#1 NOTHING for 15 minutes each day.
Here’s why this first step is so important. Martha Beck, in her book of the same name, describes the first menu item of the Joy Diet this way: “Nothing, nothing at all is the first ingredient you must add to your life when you go on the Joy Diet.” She goes on to say, “Every ancient tradition holds that from this still core of the self, this infinitely fertile emptiness, springs all that is authentic about you: your identity, your ability to recognize truth, the real operating instructions for your life. “

Yes, this seems a lot like meditation. I know some of you may be thinking “I tried that once and it did not work.” I hear you; it can be very difficult especially at first. Not to worry, if stillness is too much to handle, substitute the following question for actual stillness. “Why am I avoiding stillness?

#2 TRUTH: Create & absorb at least one moment of truth each day.
In 12-step recovery we often say, keep your mind where your feet are. That is: planted in the moment. The only way to experience life is to be present in this given moment. Otherwise, we are unable to see, hear, smell, taste or touch what is all around us.

This is how we can know and live in accord with the truth of our lives. This truth can lead us to a new kind of freedom. The practice of knowing our own truth is so simple and freeing, it begs the question: why don’t we do it more often?

Perhaps because the truth can set us free, and it also threatens everything about us and our lives that is not authentic. Denial may be a hard habit to break.

Here is a simple question for discovering our truth, “What am I feeling?”

#3 DESIRE: Identify, articulate & explore at least one of your heart’s desires.
This part of the Joy Diet helps you to access the trailhead to your most authentic life.

Martha Beck says it this way, “I don’t know what part of us stores the code for our right lives—maybe some corner of the brain, maybe the figurative heart, maybe that indefinable phantasm called the soul, but I do know how the code is relayed to our conscious minds, enabling us to make choices in keeping with our purpose. It happens through the medium of the sensation we call desire.”

I get it, this may seem dangerous because most of us have learned to banish desire, through a combination of painful experience and observation of our caregivers and elders. Perhaps with the best intentions, as a hedge against disappointment and pain.

The deeply imbedded limiting belief “If I never want anything, I can never be disappointed” may be a well-rehearsed mantra. Your true heart’s desires are not destructive. Our true heart’s desires are the way we are called to our destiny.

Imagine how your life would change once you identify one of your heart’s desires.

Ask yourself this simple question, “Then what?”

That’s it for now – 15 minutes of NOTHING, followed by a moment of true feeling and embracing at least one heart’s desire each day. See how this simple practice can bring more authentic joy into your life this holiday season and beyond.

I’d love to hear how it’s going if you care to share. Please email or text me. Better yet, sign on for a free half-hour consultation at

Best wishes for a lovely holiday season to you and those you love.

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