Do It Yourself Joy


Today I repaired a shower grip that had come loose, instead of simply buying a replacement as I’m accustomed to do. While this small act saved me a few dollars, it did not explain the ridiculously disproportionate joy I felt.

I think the joy came from feeling more in control of my life, that I didn’t have to accept things the way they were but could do something about it. That got me thinking about what other Do-It-Yourself (DIY) joys I’d been missing out on in life.

1. DIY Happiness

I used to think that other people could make me happy. This put unfair pressure on them and sent waves of disappointment over me. Of course at some point we all realise that we are responsible for our own happiness.

There are two schools of thought about happiness. Some think that you cannot consciously pursue happiness, since it is a by-product of doing something meaningful with your life. Others say that you can make happiness a project and work on it. I think both ways of thinking can be easily reconciled, and subscribe to both.

You probably know what makes you happy. Some suggestions:

– Take detours through a park or by the beach.
– Give your feet a good soak or massage at the end of a long day.
– Read a good book at a cafe while sipping a coffee.
– Clean out your desk or wardrobe.

2. DIY Success

You can probably think of a few people who just seem to have all the ‘luck’. Success comes to them in most of their undertakings. I’ve come to realise that people work very hard for their luck. You can make success happen for yourself too, instead of merely hoping that it will.

I learn a lot about how successful people think by reading their autobiographies. For example, Kathleen Turner explains the hard work acting requires, Fred deLuca exemplifies the thinking required to succeed in business, and Bill Clinton shows what it takes to become the leader of a country.

Success is not bestowed on us. It has to be claimed, earned, strived for. If you are willing to work harder than the next person, you can make your own success in your chosen field.

3. DIY Relationships

Many of us were brought up on fairy tales along the lines of ‘princess meets prince and they live happily ever after’. We are therefore devastated when real life doesn’t follow that script, and learn the hard way that relationships take work.

The good news is that enough people have realised and accepted this that any major bookstore today has a large section on relationship self-help books. There are also many blogs like Families.com about making relationships work.

Obviously there has to be another person involved in a relationship, and it’s ideal if this person is willing to work on the relationship as well. Still, marriages have been turned around because just one party was willing to work on it, even when the other party has given up.

4. DIY Health

One big favour the internet has done all of us is to bring information on health, previously the domain of healthcare experts, to our doorsteps. There is no longer any excuse for not taking responsibility for our own health. Evolving Wellness is an example of a great site with a wide range of health topics that are informative and easy to read.

I love stories like Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike that show us how you can take charge of your own health and achieve miracles that even doctors couldn’t believe possible.

Taking supplements, exercising regularly, getting enough rest, having annual health screening, and reading up on general and specific health issues affecting us are all ways that we can take our health into our own hands.

5. DIY Life

Ultimately, life is a DIY project. You can try to outsource your health to your doctor, your marriage to your spouse, your career success to a consultant, your faith to a church, or your happiness to a counsellor. Life itself is the one thing you cannot delegate to someone else.

If you have ever seen an elaborate piece of cross-stitching, you will notice that each stitch is so small that you don’t see it when you look at the whole picture. Yet every individual stitch is a vital part of how the whole looks.

I think life is like that. Each day passes so quickly that it’s easy not to notice any particular day as special. Yet it is the sum of these mostly unspectacular days that makes up most of your life.

Join me in a resolution to make each day count!