Years ago, my teaching partner in crime Cramer (no kidding, that is actually his last name) and I ran trips to Europe for high school students. It was his brain child and my highly obsessive organizing skills fueled the wild adventures.
While organizing the final trip, I went completely nutty attempting to make sure our paperwork kept up with the ever changing Board of Education regulations (don't even get me started!). After many an hour of making it all look pretty and ensuring that it was overly clear we were never EVER going to take students swimming, I kind of snapped. I walked into our office and let the frustration loose! I became quite creative with my complaints, added in flailing arms for dramatic effect, and didn't have many nice things to say about the photocopier that just couldn't keep up with me! It was an impressive hissy fit if I do say so myself! But lets be honest... a ginger knows how to snap ;-)
I was mid-gripe when Cramer cut me off by saying the following:
"I am going to tell you what Ghandi told his wife when she complained about cleaning the toilets, you do it with joy or don't do it at all!"
How did I respond? By simply asking, "so, did she clean the toilets?"
Cramer said those powerful words to me five years ago, and they have haunted me ever since. To this day, the moment I consider complaining about something I am doing I hear him in my head shouting:
DO IT WITH JOY OR NOT AT ALL!
I have to say, those eight words completely changed my perspective and caused a never ending ticker-tape of questions to run though my head ever since:
- HOW many things in my life have I said 'yes' to when I really wanted to say 'no'?
- WHO is the one in charge of my actions?
- WHY do I force myself to do things when my heart isn't into them?
- WHY do I give away my time so freely and ignore my own desires?
- If I have offered my help and I am complaining while doing it... then that makes me a hypocrite and actually, a bit two faced!
- WHY wouldn't I want to focus on doing what DOES make me happy?
I realized just how clear I need to be when it comes to choosing to do anything. I need to be brave enough to say 'no' when I don't want to do something, and strong enough to bring joy to actions that aren't on the top of my list, but are necessary (jury duty was a BIG one!)
For me, life is all about feeling joy. So that is where my focus needs to be. And no matter what actions I am doing, it is my responsibility to,
BRING THE JOY!