Despite the risk of sounding like a buzzfeed listicle, I actually throughly enjoyed making this list because it’s a reminder that I’m living a life that I will be proud of 5 years from now. For me, daily joy is about staying out of the constraints of order, routine, a predestined way of thinking about one’s existence – and actively inserting my personal desires into the wave of constraint that is monday, tuesday, wednesday…etc. I think it’s about being in control of how I experience the world, that my life doesn’t happen to me, or I don’t just participate in but I create my reality. My collaboration with Cadbury’s new Dairy Milk Silk is a great reminder to actively seek joyous moments every day, to be intentional about how you create happiness. Even though I’ve eated (because one can’t call the ravaging I’ve been doing ”eaten”) a slab a week for the past 3 weeks (a lot for a savoury tooth), this campaign is not really about selling chocolate or getting people to eat chocolate only, it’s about looking at the context of our daily lives and how unfortunately, we live in a time when fun is scheduled and work is prioritized over everything else, not because we want to but because we have to a lot of the time. But in the interesting killing the killjoys, here are ten things that I practice to ensure that I live with joy yonk’imihla.
One – Not setting an alarm
Means I don’t have curtains in my bedroom which fortunately looks out onto one of the greatest views in the city – a silhoutte of the Joburg’s famous landscape. The natural light and sounds of dawn wake me up naturally, meaning I don’t wake up feeling shocked out of my sleep and irritable for the first few minutes thinking life is unfair. I do however, have to adopt this demonic device when I have early morning meetings and airport bound trips.
Two – My morning cup of coffee
I don’t want to say I’m addicted, but I’m one of those people who looks forward to a new day because it means I get to have a cup of coffee. I like the routine of boiling the water, preparing the plunger, smelling the ground coffee beans and waiting for it to brew. In those few minutes, I get to do one thing and one thing only, which can’t be said for the rest of my day.
Three – Alone time
To quote Susan Cain’s book ”Quiet”, I’m an ambivert – a fusion of an introvert and an extrovert. I like being out at a restaurant with people I know, I like hogging the mic, I like meeting new people and having immediate DMC’s (Deep Meaningful Conversations) but I also really really like being alone for 2 days at home just doing me. I like going to the movies alone. I like eating meals alone. I’m terrible at small talk and I fear walking into a room of people I don’t know. I live alone, work alone most of the time and have come to savour my solitude over the years that when I move out of my apartment into my grown up house that I share with ubaba wasekhaya, I am going to have to insist on a lair that nobody will be allowed to enter, where I can just enjoy not opening my mouth.
Four – The Afternoon Nap
Because I’m allergic to schedules, I can, admittedly, be pretty upside down when it comes to remembering things, meetings, phone calls, assignments etc because I don’t have a stop and start button when it comes to work, family, friends, relaxing, internet time etc. I have a diary but it’s just not a useful item in my life because I can’t use it. I take afternoon naps at least 3 times a week to help me break my day into 3. I usually sleep for 2 hours at about 3 or 4 pm and I basically become a brand new person in the evening, ready and juiced to write, read, plan, socialize, do girlfriend night time things and I don’t feel an ounce of guilt over it. Because self care.
Five – Switching my phone off
I can’t stand talking on the phone. Nothing pains me more than when my phone rings and I don’t want to talk to anyone. Now I must answer and be forced to engage with a total stranger who might be trying to sell me life insurance or a friend that I just don’t feel like inserting into my mind at that moment. The other day, at about 8am in the morning, my phone rang and it was a woman from my current life insurance asking me if I’m planning to have children in the future. I was like, lady do you realize I just woke up and nowhere in my universe of thoughts did I intent to think about, let alone answer your audacious question? I don’t like calling people and I don’t like to be called, texting is much less invasive and gives me a choice to engage now or engage later. This is why I switch my phone off when I’m working and on Sundays. That becoming unavailable is an act of self preservation. Of course I feel guilty sometimes and switch it on to check if nobody is dead but I feel a lot anxious when I am unreachable.
Six – Rewarding myself every day
Whether it’s a glass or wine or a cold beer during bath time, an episode of Girlfriends before I go to sleep or taking an uber instead of driving somewhere, the active exercise of patting yourself on the back on the daily does a lot for not only my self esteem, but my creativity. Down time helps me to imagine and imagination is my lifeblood.
Seven – Cuddling
I don’t know who is more addicted to this, me or my man. He will drive or uber to my place late at night just so we can experience the joy of braiding our bodies together while we sleep. It’s not a daily occurrence because we are both busy and he has a four legged child that he needs to feed and give love to every day so we savour it when it happens. I have a real and desperate problem with letting go of nice things so mornings are dramatic when we have to get up.
Eight – Having a digital support group
I can’t tell you how much the existence of the google hangouts group page for Feminist Stokvel helps me cope with life. I think it’s about having an outlet to scream, holler, cry, laugh and basically dump yourself onto every day. Whether it’s work, life, love, politics, social media, current affairs or family related – it really helps to have a group of people whom you don’t have to explain too much to, who get you, you like you and who are always there to provide unending laughter. That group and my whatsapp group with my sisters keep me alive. I’m a girl’s girl but it doesn’t have to be like that for everyone, you just need to the crack that fits you.
Nine – Saying No
To things you don’t wanna do has been my mantra for at least the last year. I learned to say no when I realized that FOMO is childish and that saying yes to something because ”it’s an opportunity” doesn’t take away the begrudging feeling of ”why did I say yes to this” while said thing is happening. I’m practicing to rather say no with conviction than a half hearted yes. Whether it’s a meeting with a potential client, that date that you kept making excuses to go on with a friend, a wedding you don’t care to go to or a favour you don’t mean to do – saying no is a relief giving antidote to being bullied. I’m definitely not a pro because I still haven’t gotten over the inherent sexism in the fact that women are the ones burdened with saying yes to everything lest we appear unfriendly.
Ten – Meditation
I’m not a daily meditator in the sense of being quiet with my eyes closed and my mind dead to the world, I do that once a week and it’s not easy but it really helps. At the moment, I’m struggling to balance my deep desire for inner peace and universal love for all beings with my revolutionary side that wants to fight injustice and greed in all forms and at all times. How do I do all of this without being angry and hating humans? I went to my meditation class this week and spoke to the Monk for at least an hour after that and he had this to say: the best way to achieve any of your goals is to have inner peace at the centre of your intentions. Meditation really helps to build this intention and it’s just me and my corner, a candle to symbolize the intention and impepho for the atmospheric change. I would highly recommend this life long skill because it’s not attached to any deity or religious dogma, it’s just about you and your mind.