Cultivating Goodness

Lately I have felt that the season of life I am in is focused on cultivating goodness. What I mean by that is that I am intentional about surrounding myself with things that bring me joy and I am conscious of recognizing and being thankful for the abundant blessings in my life. I like the word “cultivating” because it represents doing something actively to nurture or help something grow. It represents intentional actions to plant things into my life that will make it blossom.

The book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up talks about this concept in the context of cleaning your house, you pick up items and ask “does this bring me joy?” and unless the answer is yes, or it is a necessary item, you get rid of it. I’ve been trying to apply that idea to my life by filling my days with things that bring me joy: investing in people who make me feel good, volunteering my time for projects that stimulate my creativity, buying WAY too many plants to live on my window sill, and thrift shopping a lot because its the cheapest form of retail therapy. It’s also helpful to remind myself that when things don’t go as I planned, that doesn’t necessarily mean that things are going wrong. It is easy to have days that make you feel defeated or lose your optimism but it’s important to believe that in the grand scheme of things, life is good; to paraphrase Daniel 3:18, “And if not, He is still good.”

For myself, gratitude is a major part of ‘cultivating goodness’, because as nice as it is to buy lots of cute succulents and interesting books and go for coffee dates with friends  – that isn’t going to make your life good. Your life is already good. To quote the epic 1993 film Cool Runnings “a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without one, you’ll never be enough with one.” I think the same concept applies to filling your life with good things; life is already full of so much goodness, and you have to be able to recognize and appreciate what you already have – or else the things you add to your life with will soon be forgotten. If you don’t trust me, in her TED Talk, The Price of Invulnerability , Dr. Brené Brown says, to that live a remarkable life we must “practice gratitude and honour what is ordinary about our lives because that is what is truly extraordinary”.

When I’m having a bad day or I’m not feeling like myself, I find it helpful to catalogue all the things that bring me joy. It’s a reminder that the good always outweigh the bad in life, and it gives me a fresh perspective on staying positive. I have a running list in the Notes app on my phone of things that make me happy, and whenever I notice something new, I add it to the list. I always start with the people who fill my life to the brim with love and work outward to the little things I am thankful for. The list I have is long enough for multiple blog posts of its own, but some examples are:

  • Sitting on park benches reading books and soaking up sunshine
  • Drinking vanilla ice coffee
  • High waisted jeans
  • The smell of cilantro
  • Friends that make me laugh
  • The privilege to have free time to volunteer for things I care about
  • Making dinner with my mom
  • Bright pink manicures
  • Reading books that comfort me, give me hope, and inspire me to think differently
  • Forests of Forget-Me-Nots
  • The smell of lilacs blooming
  • The taste of lime
  • The colour cadmium yellow
  • Birds singing
  • Sunsets
  • Singing in my car with friends
  • Singing badly in my car alone
  • Drinking tea in bed
  • Coral lipstick
  • Bubble baths
  • Hearing songs in public that remind you of old memories and make you smile from ear to ear
  • Dance parties
  • Scones
  • Watercolour painting
  • Cozy rainy days
  • Camp fires on the beach

As the landscape of my life changes I’ve begun to realize the importance of having faith that things are going to work out the way they should and recognizing that every day doesn’t need to be the happiest day, for it to still be saturated in goodness.

I know that I am writing from a very fortunate place; I am lucky to have a beautiful life and a lot of wonderful things going for me, I have an amazing family and lovely friends and I just graduated from university. But trust me, 2017 has handed me a lot of tough days and the best way I’ve learned to manage them is by remembering that the good always outweighs the bad. Even on my worst day, I know that there are things to be thankful for.

This week I encourage you to try making your own list of things that bring you joy and be intentional to notice the little things that make you happy, because when you add them all up you’ll see even more clearly how good life is.

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