Science has identified the few experiences that are critical for happiness.
But most people don’t know them, so fail to maximize their joy.
My blog describes the happiness essentials and how you can get them via a fulfilling daily practice: Joyshift.
Start with just 5 minutes a day!
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Break the bigness bummer

By John Ince


Want to improve your chances of  getting anything you  want in your life?  

A simple technique that has revolutionized my life and is central to Joyshift will help you do that. It removes a mental block that plagues almost everyone, which I  call the bigness bummer.  

Think of the last time you imagined something significant that you want, such as getting in shape, finding a new job, or decluttering your home.

You foresee all the effort required and your willpower sags under the anticipated weight of the project. So you delay getting started, sometimes forever, and never get the reward you seek. The biggest bummer thwarted you.

The solution...
But if you imagine the project as a series of easy five minute steps,  you remove this mental block.

You are then way more likely to take the crucial first step. And once you start and get the instant small reward of that, you will be more inclined to take the second step, and then third, and so on.

When you learn the power of consistent small steps you can literally move mountains!

My example
Here is an example from my own life.  For years, I lived in a home crammed with stuff.

Bookshelves stuffed with titles I once read but had not opened in years, closets full of shirts and slacks I once fancied but now rarely wore, filing cabinets packed with ancient records, storage lockers  heaped with old sports gear, and boxy computer monitors from the 1990s.  

The thought of organizing this chaos made me shudder, so nothing changed for years.

Then I discovered I was in the grip of the bigness bummer.   I could reframe the project as a series of small steps rather than a giant hurdle.  

Spending just five minutes a day on the job felt totally doable.  So I started with just that: five minutes. I cleared my writing desk.

Now the place where I spend much of my life was transformed into a clear open space rather than a disorganized heap.  I felt wonderful just looking at this key piece of real estate, all efficiently organized.  I could think of  no other five minutes of effort that could deliver such pleasure.

The next day I started on my top drawer in my filing cabinet. In five minutes I was only able to review a few of the many files, but it felt great to fill my waste basket with papers I no longer needed.

After a few days I’d reduced the space in the drawer by about 90%. The next week I tackled the next two drawers and the week after that I sold the filing cabinet on Craigslist. I’d removed a dark hulking presence from by bedroom!

I won’t bore you with the details of how my home went from a constantly irritating mess to a decluttered nirvana, because the point is that none of this would have happened unless I had confronted the bigness bummer.

A seemingly overwhelming job became manageable and even fun, just by tackling it in short, easy steps.

I did not know it at the time, but in decluttering my home I was also giving myself a primal nutrient.

Our genes are minimalist
It turns out that by nature we are material minimalists. We evolved to prefer clear open living space over quarters crammed with stuff.  That is why decluttering feels so good,  as I discuss in the next post.

Taking small steps to start and finish a project that might otherwise seem overwhelming is a simple but powerful tool to improve your life. So it is the foundation of Joyshift.

In fact,  what I call a joyshift is is a set of deliberately planned  small steps to bring into your life the experiences that are essential to attain the greatest joys in life.

Your first joyshift could involve nothing more complex than tidying up your home. But it starts building the structure to achieve a much more ambitious goal: to  permanently lift your happiness level.

So consider experimenting with the power of small steps right now.