The Architecture of Delight

The final Great Big Dreams retreat of 2007 happened over this past weekend. On Saturday, I was talking with one of the participants. I’ll call her Vanessa. We were talking about her daughter who is famous and successful in the arts. After she told me of her daughter’s many successes, awards, and world travels, I asked Vanessa, “Is your daughter happy?” She scrunched up her face and said matter-of-factly, “Hmmm. No. Not really. Not at all.” We both cracked up. The American Dream.

It’s interesting that so many of us clamor for some vague idea of success or goal-setting without considering our own delight in the process. It would be funny if it weren’t so depressing!

I’ve been guilty of neglecting my own joy, and forgetting the things I most love. Several years ago, I was touring almost constantly. I was working hard just to keep my office, employees and independent record label going. I got into such a rut that my lack of delight began manifesting in unhealthy behaviors – drinking more often, eating crappy food, a perpetual distractedness with my friends and family, and a constant fear of “not enough.” On the outside, you probably wouldn’t have known it. But on the inside my heart was breaking.

Eventually, I hit a serious emotional low and decided to take some time to myself. I took many hikes in the woods. It was hard to do this at first because I couldn’t connect to nature. I was all wrapped up in my head and lost in thoughts and to-do’s.

Then one day, as I passed by a blackberry bush, the wall around my heart cracked open slightly. I absolutely love blackberries. Not for their taste. But for how they look. I stood there and just stared at the blackberries as tears fell down my cheeks. It dawned on me that in my quest to make it as an artist, I had adopted obsession and forgotten delight.

When you adopt obsession, you require hard hits of big things to wake up the you that has become numb. It’s as if food has to be spicier, saltier, and fattier. Music has to be louder and faster. Moments need to be “events” to get you to notice them. It takes more flash to feel good. It takes more bling to be present.

When you remember delight – you taste, you express, and you smile. You remember to feed yourself and be fed. You remember to notice. You cherish.

It’s the difference between a vacation at Disney World, and a week at an old beach house that smells like salt air and ocean spray.

Why is delight important?

Delight is a “now” word. Delight is about living in the moment – but without having to prod yourself to “be present.” Delight shifts your energy so that you become “attractive” and happy. When you are attractive and happy, then effortlessness has a way of delivering your success to you, rather than you having to “work hard” for it all the time. Also, when you are happy and when you allow delight in your life, then “working hard” isn’t so hard. In fact, it’s more fun.

One of Abraham-Hicks’s daily messages in 2007 was this: “A happy life is just a string of happy moments. But most people don’t allow the happy moment, because they’re so busy trying to get a happy life.”

Delight is that moment. Delight shifts your chemistry. It removes the resistance. It teaches you how to allow effortlessness.

We all know that, of course. And we nod and think, “Yea yea – I need to do something about that.” And then we don’t.

But have you ever considered that it might be imperative to make space for delight in your life?

Do you recognize that delight and joy might actually attract more of your goal to you as you take action steps towards it?

I’ve discovered that the more I’ve opened up to delight in my everyday life, the more I allow it in my work life, too. The more I move toward delight in my work, the more unexpected opportunities show up.

Here’s a random example: At the end of 2006, I began teaching creativity to leaders of the Federal Government. This training happened every other month throughout 2007. (And will continue throughout 2008.) In spite of all of the objections in my head (“You’re a songwriter! You can’t do this!” “Who do you think you are? This is just weird!”), I started realizing that I’m good at it – and that I really love doing it.

So I acknowledged that and kept re-designing my class and looking forward to flying to DC every other month. I got two raises during the year. And I’ve now had several businesses and corporations contract me to teach creativity to employees after finding out about my classes. I have yet to advertise or to put up a website about these trainings!

I’m now convinced that delight is one of the best ways to create effortlessness.

5 Simple Ways to Invite Delight

I still get in ruts, even now. But I’m faster at finding my way out of them. I’m more tuned in to recognizing when I’ve abandoned delight. And I know that the fastest way to get me back on track is to take some time to shift into enjoying something in the moment – rather than trying to push through the pain. Here are five ways to tap into your own delight:

1 – Create a “Here’s What I Love” List

This is an on-going list in your journal. Just write a list of a hundred things you love. If you can think of more, write them down. But write at least a hundred. From the way your dog’s ears bounce when you take her for a walk, to watching West Wing re-runs to strawberries in the summer. Call it your Master “Here’s What I Love” list. Just creating it will open your heart.

2 – Create a “Fun To-Do’s” List

This is a list to have on hand when you forget to have fun. You don’t have to come up with 100 things, but it’d be great to get at least 20 things. Be sure to include stuff you used to love when you were a kid, just in case you might try them again some time. (Don’t forget swinging on swings, jumping on trampolines, and throwing water balloons!) What is fun for you? What gets you excited? What do you love doing? Put it all down.

3 – Create a “Friends I Want to See More” List

I called my friend Beth right before Christmas and left her a message. In it, I pointed out that we had seen each other only thrice this entire year. (Though I didn’t actually say “thrice.”) Whenever Beth and I get together, we usually laugh so much, I think it boosts our immune systems for a few months! It’s so easy to let time slip by without hanging out with your most cherished friends and family. Make a list of people you love to be with – and then call them and make some plans.

4 – Consciously choose to enjoy something in your day

Let’s say you’re at work and you’re giving a presentation. Let’s say you usually despise doing this. Try shifting it. Pretend you like doing it. Look around at the people, feel the funny blips of fear in your stomach, smile to yourself and have some fun! I started doing this on stage in the past few years – and it’s really changed how I show up as a performer. To just have fun in some of those moments and realize that this is where you are right now – this can be so liberating. You might even find that you can delight in things that you never even liked before!

5 – Do things imperfectly on purpose.

Let go of perfection. I know this is a hard thing to do. But it can really add to your delight to just do something because you want to do it – not because you have to do it well.

————-

Final Note: This article was scheduled to be posted yesterday, but it snowed here. And we woke up to a blessed shadowy white morning, and I opted to walk outside with my dog – who delights in snow while I delight in her delighting in the snow. I’m happy I waited!

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Comments

  1. K Worbola says

    How amazing…”Delight” is my word pick for 2008. I’ve focused on phrases throughout the past year. They’ve become part of my mantra. First, “Be kind.” To others, to myself, and my past selves. It encourages me to be understanding. Then, “I’m a finisher.” That puts doubt in its place, and I remember how wonderful “finishing” something feels…As I looked over the list of words, I shied away from “delight,” and realized that’s why it should be my 2008 – it feels so decadent, and yet grateful, and “of the moment” and makes perfectionism slide away. Along with delight, I’ve decided on “enough” – as in, I have enough, I am enough. I delight in enough!

  2. says

    So true… so true.

    It is so easy to get caught up in the everyday busyness of the world, that you can forget about the beauty of a sunrise, or the glow of the blanket of stars in the sky at night. And when you get that busy, you don’t even see them when they are right in front of you!

    And, while I am exulting over natural beauty, or the enjoyment of a nice cup of herbal tea, I always wonder why I have to keep reminding myself to take the time to do this.

    Thank you for the reminder to enjoy the day!!

  3. says

    Happy New Year, Christine!

    Talk about synchronicity… last night, I was having a “conversation with God” as I was falling asleep and the subject of delight came up!

    And when we opened up the door this morning for my husband to go to work (his first day back), it was snowing! We’ve never been snowed on before, and so the two of us ex-SAfricans just went outside and kind of danced around in it (me still in my dressing gown and slippers :)). It was delightful!

  4. Mark Wolf says

    i was doing research for another tatoo and heard right out of nowhere on a website and got here! There’s obviously alot more to you than meets the ear… thanks for your words/vision. For me, to be able to see the world with the eyes of the child is important..and glorious! Thank you for reminding me and giving me tools to keep doing that :)

  5. says

    k – most excellent. i was wondering if anyone chose “delight” as their word. I like your idea of phrases. I do that too. I taught the women at my retreat to say “Rain falls. Money comes.” I do that a lot. Especially when people start talking about droughts. And when old money parental voices show up. Mantras are great to lean on!

    laveda – writing in a gratitude journal every night is a great way to keep yourself in that space of noticing delight. it keeps you “on alert” throughout the day. i understand about that “busyness” thing!

    mags – well, my dog would totally have loved to be there with you and your husband. i love snowy mornings so much – i’m glad you got to experience this!

    thanks mark! i wasn’t aware that right outta nowhere was playing on a tattoo site. now i feel so hip! thanks for the note!

  6. says

    This is a wonderful post and one I really needed to read. I’m beginning the new year with a very heavy workload. I’m grateful for the wonderful opportunities that have come my way but find that I’m spending a lot of time worrying about getting things done or dropping a ball. Delight has gone a little by the wayside.

    I value everything you describe in your post and am happy to have the reminder. Thank you.

    By the way, my word for the year is “care”. The word popped into my mind on several occasions and I just knew it should be my word for the year. I think it works in tandem with slowing down and experiencing delight.

  7. says

    Thanks for another spot on post Christine! (I don’t know how you keep getting in my head like that!)
    My word for the year is “present” because it covers three things I felt are really important for me right now…
    Being present in the moment I’m in, presenting my work to others, and transforming my view of myself from someone who is needy into someone with gifts to give (presents!)
    This post has already been printed out so I can keep it on hand and start to work with it!

  8. ruth says

    Christine, Thanks so much for this delight-full post. Yes, I too, chose DELIGHT as my word, because I know it will force me to slow down and really enjoy the moments. And also because it reminds me to keep being da-light, seeing da-light. Your tips have given me some concrete places to begin. THANK YOU! Thank you, thank you.
    And what is YOUR word for this year?????

  9. says

    Great post (and I’d just read about the snowfall at Patti’s). :) Love the A-H quote…and thanks for the reminder on making a list of fun things to DO. I’m a whiz at brainstorming 100 creative ideas…but then get overwhelmed at the thought of which ones to tackle…since each project requires multiple steps. This year I think I’m going to reverse that process and just focus on those happy moments…and see what unfolds. Sometimes we get so caught up in creating a pretty, perfect envelope that we forget that there’s already a big piece of essence inside…just waiting to (be) unfold(ed).

  10. says

    thanks shan – i completely understand about having lots of stuff on your plate. some days, remembering delight can feel just plain annoying – but it’s always worth it!

    annalisa – it’s amazing how you can transform your neediness by learning to give. i love that.

    ruth – i’m working on my word this week. i’m leaning towards “paradigm” – simply because my word of the year last year (Pioneer) shifted so much of my limited thinking and assumptions -that it fascinated me to see how the entire paradigm of what i thought was possible completely shifted. i wanted to write a post about the who Pioneer thing – and how it changed me – but it’s so un-writable and so big! thanks for asking!

    marilyn – yes, i have lots of those creative ideas too. it’s good to just go in tiny steps and recognize the wisdom of that.

  11. says

    I love to delight in the simple things like wind in the pines, the moon to whom I say hello to every morning when i see her, to the complexity of the stars I see every morning. Yesterday it was the thrill of seeing the yellow gold of a golden-crowned kinglet (a little bitty bird). And when blackberry season is here, I LOVE/DELIGHT to eat them right off the cane. thanks for the post. bb

  12. says

    My daughter complains that I use the word “delightful” way too much. How can that be?! I started my journey toward delight about 11 years ago, in a land far, far away…or so it seems when I look back at it. I still remember that moment when I had finished doing about 8 hours of yard work in Atlanta, and I was hot and sweaty and tired as I rolled the mower to the back yard. I stopped in the shade of a plum tree to wipe the sweat from my face, and caught a breeze with a whiff of freshly mowed grass and flowers, and heard the laughter of my children. I was a single parent in the throws of divorce and a life that was amazingly stressful and full of drama. None of that had changed, but right there, I experienced a moment of bliss, of contentment, of all-is-well-in-my-world. And I stopped and breathed it in and something shifted for me. I immediately and unceremoniously went back to that stressful life, but I had that one snapshot in time to remember and return to. That’s when my mantra of “what’s really important” started for me. Do I want to be right, or……? I took baby steps. I moved forward through the fear, remembering that peaceful moment and hoping that I could find it again. And now I can say that I have had many such moments. This summer I did jump on a trampoline, swing on swings and throw water balloons. I also tubed down a river for the first time in my life, as well as danced in the rain. I don’t enjoy getting cold, but I was outside watching my daughter and my dogs cavort in the snow yesterday and again today. (I am weird, I guess. I don’t ski, I don’t like to sled, but I LOVE to shovel snow! But I didn’t shovel, I just watched and smiled.

    Thanks for the reminders. It helps me to see that I’ve come far and gives me ideas for more adventure (which happens to be my word of the year).
    Pam

    (This morning my chickens asked me to bring their food and water inside the hen house so they didn’t have to get frozen feet! It was 10 degrees here. So I did, of course.)

  13. says

    Lists are fun to do especially if they do not involve work. There’s one that I would like to try out though… It’s choosing to enjoy something today. It seems a little odd but when you focus on just enjoying the now, moments feel a little more special. A little more memorable.

  14. says

    thanks to all for your insights.

    and pam – you crack me up. i always think of someone from NYC reading your words and thinking, “who the hell IS this person? she’s on the internet – so she’s obviously got some web savvy – but she’s got CHICKENS and Dogs and kids and a garden???” and i would tell them that this is ONLY the beginning! :-)

  15. Nancy says

    You made my morning, once again. My word is “release” and I realize I need to release those things that are cluttering my mind and life in order to delight in the the truly precious simple things.
    Thank you.
    Nancy

  16. Leslie says

    How cool is this? My word for 2008 is delight! What a fun surprise to see your words on finding more delight. I’ve been thinking about it the last two days. Thinking of focusing more on all the positive rather than dwelling on the negative. I’m looking forward to being delighted in all kinds of ways I may not have noticed before. Thanks for the lift.

  17. lilas says

    What’s the etymology of this word? I ask because my word for the year (and I love the concept – thanks for that, and everything else you write/sing/teach, Christine) is LIGHT, as in the transformational energy of light, keep it light enough to travel, the light will show the way etc. Surely the word delight should really be allight because the prefix de- usually suggests there being none. Just wondering…..

  18. says

    I heard of your blog through Alyson Stanfield (www.ArtBizCoach.com) and I have really enjoyed peeking in occasionally. Sometimes the serendipity of surfing amazes me. I really needed to read this today…. Thanks!

  19. Kay says

    Middle English delit, from Old French, a pleasure, from delitier, to please, charm, from Latin dlectre : d-, intensive pref.; see de– + lactre, frequentative of lacere, to entice.Latin
    past participle of dlectre, to please.

  20. Lilas says

    Oh I see – the roots of the words are different. Thanks Kay for shedding light on the matter.

    Now I can rest easy. I didn’t like the idea that to delight in something, you should be without light. It seemed absurd.

    Thanks very much

  21. says

    Hi Christine,
    Yep, I’m getting a jump on being an eccentric old lady! And just to make me even more eccentric, we’ve added a new canine family member. I’ll send you a picture. He is a setter-spaniel mix and is black with a white chest. Very cute! So we now have 2 dogs, 7 cats-2 inside and 5 outside, some of whom live with the chickens– but they don’t know that they’re not supposed to like chickens, so please don’t tell them!– a rabbit and 65 chickens. The hamster died, but she lived at least a year longer than hamsters are supposed to live!). And don’t forget the 2 kids, one entering teenagehood as the other leaves. My darlin’ son just got engaged this past week.

    Yes, life is good. Adventure!
    Pam

  22. Diane says

    Hi Christine,
    This was such a timely post for me. I’ve been searching for a job for some time now–a process that’s not been very ‘delightful’ to date, and that has my mental anxiety hamster continually racing round and round. My word for the year is COURAGE . . . so I’m going to be courageous enough to keep an eye out for delight in the midst of the job search that I’ve both worried about and tried to force along.
    Thank you for the insight!

  23. Meg says

    Hi Christine,
    Your blog is such a joyful place to visit!

    My word was going to be “courage”. I loved the concept but the word wasn’t really ringing for me, it felt kind of sorrowful for some reason. So I changed it to “Go bravely!”, which seems to propel me fearlessly into every task, but with a lightness and a giggle. What fun!

  24. says

    Hi there! What a lovable blog! My first time here and will be frequenting here from now on…

    DELIGHT will be my word for 2008! More power to you!

  25. says

    Hi Christine,

    Great blog! I have started making my list of delights… my husband has too.

    Thanks a bunch for your words of wisdom, they have struck a chord with my husband. He introduced me to your blog and what a gift it is! It has helped our relationship and I want to thank you for being the catalyst.

    My husband was so impressed with your writings and wisdom that I have rec’d the best present for my birthday/Christmas present. That is – to be able to come to your retreat in March. I look forward to a wonderful time and a great time for much reflection.

    Thanks again!

  26. says

    Christine:

    Just a stop by to say I love your soul! I am often times referring many friends to your site, hoping they will ‘get it’… I’ve communicated off and on with you here and there for years. You’re always an inspiration.

    Thanks for sharing your life with the world!

  27. says

    How could I not respond to a post like this? My blog title is Delightful Work and here are the very first words I wrote in it. Delightful work is: amusing, attractive, captivating, clever, engaging, enjoyable, fascinating, gratifying, luscious and thrilling. Does your work invoke any of these, or something less?

    After reading this post Christine, I’m betting that you lose yourself in your work often.

    I really enjoyed your take on delight being an in the moment feeling. You’re right it does shift our chemistry and allow effortlessness. Being in that delightful work zone is a beautiful place to be. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  28. Carolyn says

    Christine, as usual, when I actually take the time to read anything you write, I am inevitably inspired, challenged, uplifted, and encouraged to open to more joy. Delight, what a beautiful word. love the image of “de” as “the”.
    De-light = The Light.
    I’m changing jobs this summer after 11 years. Don’t know what I am led into yet. It is so great to remember to open to that inner guidance with joy, with delight in the unfolding process of discovery…Happy New Year! and love to you and M! Carolyn.

  29. Sue says

    Wonderful wonderful! This was perfect timing for me to read (well, after reading about the best cat toy, I will have to try the wooden bead on Sam and Sage tonight).
    I’ve been living in the city for 7 years and have felt very disconnected from nature (after living in/around national parks my entire career, I’m in a regional office). I’ve noticed over the years that it take more time for me to re-connect with nature once I do get out in the woods, or onto the prairie, or wheever. I’ve been fearful that I will never find that emotional/spiritual connection that I’ve felt when I enter the woods, float a river in a canyon, or whatever since it is taking longer and longer to find settle into the rhythm.
    So, I’m taking a leap of faith for this very purpose. To follow my heart. While I’ll be separated from my spouse for a short time, I’m relocating to Mount Rainier and will work there. The driver–life is too short to be disconnected from what brings joy, what delights, particularly when seemingly stuck in a dysfunctional environment. Scared? yup! Excited to roam the trails around the mountain, you bet! Hopeful to reconnect such that it doesn’t take hours to feel the power, rather minutes, YES! Thanks again for the reminder that it takes baby steps–and the only way to get there is to first take one foot forward. Now, any tips on driving across the Great Divide (that’s 5 days) with two howling cats!?

  30. Ann says

    Delight is a great word. I like the spontaneous quality of it – like interrupting us in the midst of doing something else. I plan to do some journaling to capture more of those moments. Thanks.

  31. says

    Brava! The wind of these words blow in my creative heart today. I see a new work coming out that will be called delight. It is a reminder and a celebration of the beauty of such a thing. Thanks for writing this “shifting” article. I appreciate every word and embrace the encouragement. In joy

  32. Joan says

    Hi Christine. I first read your NY blog and was drawn to picking a word. My past is so heavy and unbearable that I am trying to focus on just today. I even wrote a song about it. As far as delight, that is still very difficult, but who know what will come today. Thank you

  33. Pat K. says

    What a wonderful and DELIGHTful idea. Like so many of your other blog entries I’ve found a voice for things inside that I didn’t know how to express, or how to treat that special energy I feel inside. Being a visual artist, words come hard. Your words are just the right speed, variety, and order for me to totally “get it”. As I told a mutual friend about my feelings after finding your website, “The floodgates have opened”. So, a huge thank you for sharing yourself with the world.

    Pat

  34. says

    A few weeks ago, after hopping through some of your posts on intention, words for the year, etc., I chose “choice” and “delight” as my words for now, for the next few months. It’s been challenging remembering and returning to them in the midst of emotional turmoil and a head full of stories, but there have been glimpses of light, of shifting, even if only for a moment.

    For years, I’ve had and cherished a button that reads “Don’t postpone joy.” I don’t remember where I bought it, but I think I’ve had it for almost 30 years. Somehow it’s always seemed to me the most important message I can give myself and others. I used to find it rather easy to follow its instruction, but in the past couple of years, I’ve found it challenging. Some months ago, I dug out the button and attached it to my backpack. I tote it around with me to the gym and grocery shopping. Every time I put down the pack, I see that message: “Don’t postpone joy.” And somehow I keep postponing it anyway with my stories of the missing ingredients… Today I will remember to delight in what I see, what I do, what’s going on. And I’ll delight in the silliness of my own frown in the face of that joyful button.

  35. Dee Kitrell says

    Thank you so very much Christine for this most beautiful message – they say when the student is ready the teacher appears – thanks for being one of my teachers along the path back to my true self.

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