January 12, 2024

We Really Can’t Do it All: Destigmatizing Human Limitations to Reclaim Joy

Reclaim joy through examining the rhythms of your life. A series of questions will help you explore.

If someone asked you to stop what you were doing—something productive that perhaps contributed to the domestic GDP—and join in a playful activity for a few minutes, how would you feel? What thoughts would go through your mind? Some people would be energized by this invitation, but there are probably a large number of us that might actually find it an overwhelming “task.” After all, there is so much to do, how is there time for something that doesn’t make a dent in our never ending to-do list? What an imposition!

Kids are just the opposite. Without a care in the world, they intrinsically prioritize play and chase happiness-inducing activities. But somewhere along the journey towards adulthood, the internal scale of responsibilities can tip us away from our sources of joy into rhythms that may quietly become unsustainable and limit our interaction with our sources of purpose and invigoration.

While we are adults with responsibilities we can’t shirk, what if we embraced the fact that we have limitations? That can feel like a dirty word, but the reality is that we all have very real limitations. Instead, we can shift from seeing limitations as obstacles and see them as opportunities to recognize it’s time to rest and reconnect with our sources of joy, love, awe, or peace.

Here is a simple practice to encourage self-reflection.

  • On a piece of paper, make two columns—“pre” and “post.” Think back to a time when you first began something that excited you, perhaps a job. This is your pre column. What do you remember feeling during that season? Engaged, energetic, fulfilled, thankful.
  • Next, in your post column, note how the feelings began to change for you over time. Did they become feelings of exhaustion, sadness, irritation? 
  • Pause and consider how these persisting emotions are influencing your life trajectory. Are there ways to get back to the original joy? Perhaps something in your setting has changed that made what was once a good fit for you no longer be so.
  • If needed, reach out to someone you trust (a friend, counselor, coworker, pastor) who can offer love and support as you navigate these thoughts. 
Thrive Center


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